Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ouch- A Painful Loss that seems like Old Times

This Hurts. Not as bad as Mcsorely's stick or a Craig Muni knee on knee open ice check-but this hurts. For us Kings fans any small amount of hope is generally followed by a sharp pull of the rug which sees is sitting on our backsides in a slight daze wondering what the heck happened. Last night was that whole concept wrapped up into one period of play. Let gets to it shall we?

Overall, The team played well enough to win. As a matter of fact though the Kings have dropped 4 of their last 5 they played well enough to Win almost every game. 3 of those losses of the 1 goal variety with the Kings having glorious chances to tie or win only to not be able to come up big. Probably the reason last night really stings because the elation of the comeback proved to short lived....12 seconds to be exact. It is not time to wave the white flag yet but certainly some players can be critiqued and this is as good of time as any to do just that.

Jack Johnson- I am of the belief that JJ should be paired with Greene or Scuderi and just let him run wild and jump in when he sees fit ala Mike Green. It's obvious he is a good skater with speed and offensive skills but on the D side, and I hate to use this term, but he is an outright trainwreck. He is a team low -13 on the season, debate the +/- stat all you want but O'Donnell is a +8 and Doughty a +7. JJ is the only full time Defenseman on the roster with a minus in that category.

And while I hate to blame a loss on one player-after the Kings rallied to tie the game up with less than 3 minutes left-WHY THE PINCH? At that point he simple needs to fall back and get the game into OT thus guaranteeing one point out of the game. Making matters worse is where he pinched and the entire situation. It wasnt as if his pinch would have led to a scoring chance for the Kings and by the same token falling back wasn't going to guarantee the Wild a scoring chance either. A baffling decision on JJs part that literally cost us a point in the standings.

Some good news-its clear that Ryan Smyth is getting back into form as is Wayne Simmonds. Simmonds has a level of tenacity on the puck that I am not sure I have ever seen from any hockey player at any level. He seemingly loves to battle for puck possession and more often then not whens that battle. A fine player to be certain.

Parse-He is clearly an NHL player and without question if not for Purcell's contract would have taken his spot on the roster IMO.

Purcell- Looks to me like Purcell just is one or two areas shy of what is minimum to be an NHL player. Oscar Moller is obviously a more complete hockey player IMO.

Kopitar- I would not be surprised to learn the he is nursing an injury. He looks like a different player and even noticed that his skating style has changed a bit with a lumbering type of gait. Regardless-when need our #1 to play like a #1 and right now he is not doing that.

Ivanans- When Boogard ran Smyth....action should have been taken. He doesnt necessarily need to go after Boogard but he certainly should have went after one the Wilds skilled players. Boogard did this same thing the other night against St Louis if Im not mistaken, where he threw a good hard check on a killed player and there was immediate action taken. I heard a quote from an old school NHL enforcer who said "you dont ask a guy to fight, you make him fight" meaning instead of lining up and asking to dance, you hammer someone on the other team thus forcing a reaction from the other team. Ivanans isnt cutting the mustard at this point and before we start asking for Westgarth-he is not ready for the NHL and if called up will most likely end up like Ryan Flinn with his wide open style.

Dustin Brown-I like the Captain....I really do. But when Marek Zidlicky wants to fight you drop the gloves and pound the crap pout of him. Zidlicky has never won a fight, is lighter and smaller- Being the Captain means dropping the gloves once every blue moon and while I like Brown throwing the big checks when the Captain drops the mitts then no one has a reason not to drop the mitts or at least raise the intensity level.

There are some other players who I just wont comment on at this Point but I will say its no accident that players currently being lambasted are also the same players on the bottom of the stats in key categories. At this point I would love to reacquire a Tim Gleason type player and get a veteran forward with some leadership who can score and fight like a Guerin or a Shanahan type player.

The bad news we're on a losing streak, the good news is we could have won most of the games. The bad news-next up is a back to back in Calgary and Minnesota and right now I am not sure there is a team in the league that can be considered a gimme considering the way we have lost recently. The Good News- Smyth will score against Calgary and Simmonds and Parse will prove the duo that wins the game in Minny.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

What else can I say but......

A)When was the last time we saw this?

B)How sweet is this?

Brian Hayward; Hall of Fame Homer to the 10th degree

I said it years ago and I stand by my statement that one reason Duck's fans have such a skewed version of reality is that most of them, not all of them mind you but most of them, learned about the game of Hockey by watching and listening to not only the Ducks horrible play by play guy, but worse by Brian Hayward; who in a world filled color commentators blinded by their monolithic favoritism of the team they cover and a singular myopic view that their team can and has done no wrong-this Homer has managed to take the cake. Thus, season after season after hearing Hayward complain that any infraction committed by the Ducks was either a marginal call by the ref or an embellishment by the opposing player; and any time a Ducks player falls down the ref somehow missed the call has given Ducks fans an alternate reality that Mr. Mxyzptlk would be proud of.

Exhibit A-

Notice when Perry elbows the Wings player-Hayward makes a reference to legendary player Gordie Howe...as if Perry throwing an Elbow to the opposing players mush is good ole' fashioned hard nosed hockey. But when Perry turns away from the check of the oncoming Abdelkader, Hayward then complains that Abdelkader hit him in the back....in spite of the fact that Perry turns his back to the oncoming Abdelkader. Then to top it all off-when the fight is over Hayward belittles Abdelkader because either A)he is wearing a face shield or B)his shield happens to be a bit longer than then shield Perry wears. I honestly don't even know where Hayward was going with that line of dialogue but regardless-he was wrong either way.

Lest we think I am simply attacking anything Duck related....the Ducks radio guy Steve Carroll is fantastic. He to me, should be doing the TV side as well because IMO-he is an old school guy who calls a great game.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Oh What a Feeling; Kings Win in OT

What a fantastic time to be a Kings fan. I can honestly say without a doubt that this team has the most character and balance of any Kings team in over 15 years if not longer. Why I chose 15 years? Its a nice number.

Purcell- Great for Teddy P to contribute with the ice breaking goal. That said I still wonder why he is getting ice time on the 2nd Power Play unit. Not saying he sucks, should be traded, or beaten with a herring-just think there are other forwards in the lineup that could probably make better use of PP time.

Frolov-Said in the GDT that Frolov isn't playing poorly, but all the other forwards on the team are playing so well and so inspired that it makes Frolov's play magnified. Not too different then Jack Johnson looking like an also ran when he gets compared to Doughty night in night out. That said-Frolov game is getting better....he looks to be driving the net more frequently and going into high traffic areas.

Mega Props to Jim Fox on his call of Frolov's hooking penalty in the 1st. He took the time to explain why the refs are justified in making a call like that as opposed to whining and complaining about a ticky tack call like we certainly would have seen and heard from another color commentator across town who shall go unnamed. That said-There was a blatant high stick at the end of the 2nd on Scuderi that went uncalled as was the horrible call on Brown in the 3rd when-gasp......players actually bumped into each other. Its one thing to make that call in the first period another to make it in the 3rd in a tight game between two divisional rivals. Making matters worse was the non-call on what should have been a blatant interference call on Scott Nichol as Frolov went after a loose puck in the Sharks zone back in the 2nd.

I was pretty envious of the Sharks physical play, they were consistently taking the body all night long. I guess in the end it didnt pay off for them but I hope we say a day when the Kings can play that take the body style for 60 minutes....hopefully against the Ducks.

Ersberg-Glad to see him get the win but the Boyle goal was soft as was the 4th goal. Both goals should have been stopped IMO. That said on the 2nd Shark PP goal I cant blame Ersberg as much as the Kings PK for not boxing out the opposing players and taking the man as opposed to trying to dig out the puck from the scrum in the crease. Ersberg save% on the night was .882; Quick's save% on the season is .900; Kind of makes you think how good this team can be if we ever by the grace of god landed a truly elite top notch goalie....hopefully Quick can grow into it becoming one or Bernier can get a chance and make the most of it. That said-Ersbergs puck handling skills and decision making with the puck are certainly a notch above Quicks.

Ivanans- In the first Ivanans looked to challenge Doug Murray once or twice which is nice. Wasnt able to get him to go and Ivanans contributions are certainly debatable, but at least he was trying to make some noise.

Stoll- I have to think that Stoll is going to be a coach when his playing days are behind him. You can see by his interaction with the coach's and his demeanor in certain situations that he really has a grasp for the games technical aspects. Between him and Greene, who is a monster on D and a true warrior, the Visnovski trade looks better and better daily for the team. Stoll is now tied for 3rd on the team for pts and 2nd in goals. Which brings me to the next item...

Doughty- Doughty should get a Norris nomination this year. He is tied for 3rd as well with 24 pts and a +11 on the season. Is there any doubt that if Doughty was on the Leafs or the Canadians that he would arguably win the award? Doughty is 4th in scoring for dmen and tied for 1st in goals for dmen, tied for 5th in +/-.

There was a critical time late in the 3rd when the Kings were finally able to get possession of the puck in the Sharks and do a decent job of cycling the puck...something they weren't able to do as effectively as they did vs Calgary. You could see after that shift it switched momentum a bit. Hopefully we can see the increased forecheck and cycle tonight against the Jovanovski-less Coyotes.

Blake-Not to kick a guy when he is down but surely I cant be the only one glad that Blake isnt on our roster. He looks pretty slow out there and not sure if hes been like that all season but had a real hard time controlling the puck and keeping it in the zone on the Sharks PK.

Jones-11 pts in 14 games has him approaching Quincey like numbers. That said- he makes me nervous sometimes positionally and looks like players with speed can beat him to the outside. I would not be opposed to shuffling in Drewiske for Jones and O'Donnell as the season wears on. For big physical teams you need to play O'Donnell, for less physical team platoon Drewiske and Jones. As the year moves on this could really be a boost for the playoffs in terms on minimizing wear and tear.

How sweet to see both Kopitar and Brown end their goal droughts....and both in semi-dramatic fashion. Kopitar was rocked by a big hit and to me looked hurt-he was visibly slowed by the check and was gritting out the rest of his shift; when he gained puck possession I thought for sure he would simply dump it in and head for the bench, instead he decides to stay on the ice and scores a goal 5 seconds or lso later. I think that may be the definition of character for our Slovakian friend. As for Brown, he was playing hard and giving his all-maybe squeezing the stick a bit too tight but his OT goal had to have been sweet. Truth be told it looked like a soft goal that Nabakov should have stopped. Maybe it was the off speed/trickle off of Browns stick that made it a hard play. Which leads me to some numbers....

Sharks have given up 11 goals in 2 game against the Kings; against the rest of the NHL they've only averaged 2.31 GAA.

Kopitar hadn't scored in 12 games while Brown hadn't scored in 15 or so. In those 15 games the Kings actually went 9-5-1. How sweet is it that two of the teams top contributors can go into a prolonged scoring slump and the team can still finish 4 games over .500; with the majority of those games playing without Scuderi and Smyth no less?

Did anyone else notice in the post game celebration not only where the players jumping on Brown like they won the cup, but when they were skating to the dressing room Randy Jones was clearly animated, high fiving anyone in the proximity including Mark Hardy. It is clear to me that everyone in the dressing room has clearly bought into the team concept and I have said it before but this maybe the best group of players and characters buying into a system and team concept the Kings have ever had. All speculation on my part but even during the Gretzky era, players probably took an occasional night off figuring Gretzky would bail them out or could abandon the system entirely and simply try and get Gretzky the puck....and most of the time that probably worked. But its clear the guys on this team like each other, pull for each other, and are a tight knit bunch focused on the prize. Everyone in the Kings organization deserves credit from Lombardi, to T Murray, and the players themselves. I have said it before and I will shout it from the rooftops, the franchise is as strong as it has ever been-from scouting to development to management etc etc; This is a special time to be a fan.

Last item-it really bothers me that the Teams stellar play has to take place in a season where there in an Olympic break. As well and as consistent as the team has played the last thing I want is long rest breaks that could kill momentum or even worse-seeing Brown on the forecheck against Doughty. I mean of all years to have 2 prolonged breaks in the schedule for long suffering Kings fans I have to ask....Why Now?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Quick to the Punch Pt 2; Kings beat Flames

A few notes and a few off the top of my head. Lets do it.

I said when Smyth and Scuderi went down that we should be happy with .500 hockey. Without looking at the results of those games I sure they did just that if not topped by a game or two. Sure Smyth aint back yet but you could see what Scuderi brings to the table in the final minutes of the 3rd. He reminds me of a better version of Aaron Miller. Some complained about his contract but you could see when the game is on the line Scuderi is about as good as dman as you will find in the league.

The Cycle- I am loving the work of our forwards on this team. Cant recall the last time we had so many players not only with good speed-but can and willing do the dirty work to cycle the puck. Parse, Richardson, Simmonds, Fro, Stoll, Williams-all are very good and adept at the cycle and last night they created a lot of chances off of it as well as visibly wore down the Calgary D. Even Moller looked like he was willing and able to work the puck low. Hate to say it but-this is another sign that doesnt bode well for Teddy P.

Parse-Really love what this guy brings to the table. Watching over the last couple of games you can see he plays with some intensity and grit that was never really reported in past scouting reports. Looks to me like he is really making the most of his call up. Would be very surprised to see him get sent down at this point. Looks as well like the chemistry is starting to blend with his line mates as well. And the fact he played hockey in Nebraska gives him brownie points.

Lets give some props to DL-last nights win would not have been a win without some of his acquisitions.

Looking at the trade of Visnovski for Stoll and Greene for instance. I liked Vis but the character that both Stoll and Greene bring is off the charts. We knew Greene is a 5th/6th dman who will occasionally scrap but his play on the PK is vastly underrated. Stoll won a ton of faceoffs, led the team in hits, scored the GW goal, and threw some nice props to the fans in his 1st star selection speech. Which brings us to Williams.

Maybe this is the flogging of a dead horse but Williams brings so much more to the table then Patty O. He can throw a check, take a check, make a pass, drive the net, work the cycle, etc etc. When that trade went down I thought the 2nd rd pick we made to get the deal done was too much but watching him play makes me think it was well worth it. And he certainly looks like the product of an illegitimate child of Dale Hunter and Bono.

Quick- Is he lucky or good or some combo of both? There are some games when any of those pucks would have trickled over the goal line....Im glad last night wasnt one of them. How rare of feat is it to only get 16 or so shots against Kiprusoff and still come away with a win?

Now some negatives or criticisms- Jack Johnson was pretty much solely to blame on the Glencross goal. For a guy who is as strong and well conditioned as he is, it looks like he is able to get out muscled and at this point in his development and it kind of makes sense. He was probably the strongest guy in college hockey and was used to being able to rub people out and use brute strength to make the plays-but in the NHL there are so many strong players that he needs to make an adjustment on how to play the bigger, stronger man. Do I bench him? No, I dont think so as overall the team is playing well. But-if he continues to make the occasional gaffe I certainly would think having him sit for a game to watch from the pressbox wouldnt be a bad thing-particularly since his spot would be filled with a competent Davis Drewiske.

Kings PP- The puck movement on the PP Goal was jaw dropping. I dont recall the Kings ever moving the puck like that....even going back to the Golden days. I hope we see more of that in the near future because it was brilliant.

Doughty- Gotta love the fact even Canadians are starting to talk about Doughty beating Phaneuf for a spot on the Olympic team. Mentioned earlier that Doughts play certainly makes every Johnson gaffe a bit more pronounced. The Poise on this kid is unbelievable. Funny to think as unhappy as we were when we lost the lottery and the Stamkos sweepstakes-Doughty may very well be the best player in one of the best draft years in recent memory. We can now switch our "would have could have" focus to last years draft and "what if" our way to think what may have been had we been able to pick 3rd and get Matt Duchene.

Can someone slap the director of the broadcast? I kept waiting for a replay of the Greene penalty in the 3rd but alas it was to no avail. I will give him props though-it was great hearing the refs/players on the live mic during the Richardson scrum. Ive said it 1000 times-if the NHL had some balls they'd mic every player and offer up everything warts and all with an alternate audio feed.

Im still flabbergasted reading some of the comments on LA Kings Insider critical of Terry Murray. I am not saying the guy is Scotty Bowman but I think there should be little doubt this is a well coached team. I mentioned before the season started that Terry Murray has always had teams that had huge point gains in the 2nd season with him as coach and it looks like it will ring true again knock on wood.

What a telling week and month this will be for the team. San Jose, Phoenix, and Dallas all in a weeks span with a Canadian Roadie after that with Van, Edm, & Calgary again, a long break(great for Smyths return hopefully) with the Yotes, 2 against the Wild, and Calgary one more time for good measure. Seeing Calgary so many times makes me long for the good ole days of the Smythe division when our division rivals were Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Winnipeg. Hating Joel Otto and Jim Peplinski, Messier, Craig Muni, Garth Butcher, Jim Sandlak, and Winnipeg who never really had the hatable players but always seemed to have a rookie goalie you never heard of who managed to play like Terry Sawchuk every time we played them and Burton Cummings singing O Canada. Good times.

As always look forward to your thoughts.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Quick to the Punch; Kings Beat Ducks

Always fantastic to beat the Ducks, one of the most satisfying things Kings fans can wallow is it not?

Lets get right to it.

Quick-The 3rd Ducks goal was a scary as was the final 3 minutes or so. That said-Quick is 3-0-0 against the Quacks and nothing matters more then the W at the end of the game. Was Uber Surprised at the praise heaped on him at the end by Bryan Hayward whome Ill speak more about later. In the last 4 games Quick has a 1.99 GAA and a .93 SV%. Id like to say he found his grove but the last Ducks goal shows there is still some work to do but all in all-Touche Senior Quick.

Simmonds-As well as Quick has played the last couple of Games Simmonds has bar none been our best forward. His hunger for the puck and wont call it willingness-but eagerness to battle for the puck is amazing. Was reading on another forum where someone thought Simmonds may be a future Selke candidate. Im not sure how realistic that may be as much as we'd love to see it BUT- Simmonds with 8 Goals and 8 Assists on the Season is on pace to go at least 20/20 and at current pace would finish the year with 46 pts. The Perry penalty at the end of the game was a bad one to take but I can only speculate since the Ducks broadcast decided it wasnt worth of replay. I dont know what diet Simmonds has but I wish someone in the front office would put Frolov on it.

Richardson-I said between the 2nd and 3rd periods that Richardson looks like a much better player then Frolov right not. Making the case more was Richardson's goal which was scored with him in front of the net willing to take the abuse NHL players take standing in front of the oppositions net. It wasn't just that goal though-you can see over the last 10 or so games that Richardson's heart and effort have been there consistently. Hayward mentioned that when Corey Perry finished as the OHL's scoring leader Richardson was #3 in same said category. It still is the ultimate slap in the face that the Kings had not one-but two chances to draft Perry and instead took Tambellini and Boyle. On the bright side-had we drafted Perry we probably wouldn't have finished as low as we did 2 seasons ago and never been in the Position to draft Doughty.

Randy Jones- I'll be honest in that while sometimes I Jones tends to make me nervous in his decision making and I see him as a 5-6 dman he then manages to make the big play that wins the game for us. 8Pts in 10 Games is not too shabby and there are probably some teams who passed over him on the waiver wire that are kicking themselves right about now. That said- if & when Scuderi gets back our DCorp is going to be in fantastic shape.

Kopitar-The Scoring is not there but he is still driving and forcing opposing teams to adjust coverage. I'd like to say lets move Simmonds or Richardson to that line but why mess with a good thing when those 2 are playing well?

Brown- Don't know how many caught it but there was a moment when Brown was standing next Wizniewski and Wiz gives him a little shove and Parros then comes over-but instead of trying to rough Brown has a huge grin and says something to Brown as to which Brown gives him a big smile as well. Not sure what to make of it other then to think Brown & Parros were probably semifriendly during Parros's days on the Kings. I still like big George but you can tell much like Ivanans that they dont really like to fight they just know its their job. That said-while Brown is in a scoring drought there is nothing wrong with his play as he is still driving the net and creating chances. Would like to see him go back to throwing his huge checks though.

Frolov- Back to the game against the Hawks I was watching him and couldnt figure out if he was indeed loafing out there are that his skating style simply gives the appearance thereof. That said last night, I noticed A)he was frequently the last guy on the back check and B)his unwillingness to go into the middle of the ice. There was one play where the puck fell right in front of the crease and Hiller but Frolov took a bit of a detour going to the front of the net and couldnt pick up the trash.
I am a Frolov fan, he appears to be a nice guy without any baggage but its time to make that "trade for trade sake" move with him. Here is what I see happening- Frolov and picks gets traded for a guy with a big contract who is under performing which is always risky, Frolov gets traded straight up for a player in a similar situation with impending UFA status, or Frolov gets moved for picks and a player well below Frolov's skill level aka Paul Gaustad or some other type player.

Hayward-I noticed going back to last season that Hayward during Kings/Ducks game has really turned down the blatant homerism....so instead of being 11 on the 1-10 Homer Scale he turns it down to 8.5 or somewhere in the general neighborhood.

I said when Smyth and Scuderi went down that we should be happy to play .500 hockey until they get back and in November we went 7-6. Being realistic without our top shutdown Dman and without Kopitars Jari Kurri in Smyth-that's the hand we have to play. Provided an outright collapse-this is what we need to stay in the hunt. The Good news in December is that there are a couple of bad teams we will be facing in Minnesota, Edmonton, & St Louis-the bad news is we play a lot of divisional foes and Calgary not once, not twice, but 3 times.

As always look forward to your thoughts.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Hips Thoughts- Oilers/Nucks/Turkey

Didn't take notes so off the top of my head here are my thoughts.

Scoring without question is an issue right now and if you want to give me a
"thank you capt obvious" retort feel free to do so. That said-

Where is the pressure in the front of the net and why are forwards so unwilling to go there on a consistent basis? And on a same scoring related note-why arent we taking more shots from the middle of the ice like Souray did on the lone Oilers Goal? When we speak of getting back to basics-isnt this really what we mean?

Quick- Quick played a solid game, but he still looks like he is not in the groove he was in last season. He makes me nervous anytime he plays the puck and there are issues big time with communication from Quick to his Dmen. Cant we just settle it right now and set a rule that says Quick should never handle the puck? Unrealistic sure but wouldnt having one less bungled and botched play from goalie to defenseman have a calming influence?

Frolov- I will not jump on the Frolov bash brigade but Brown set him up with a beautiful pass right in the wheelhouse in a prime scoring area only to have Fro arrive at the puck completely unprepared to take the shot and not even close to being in the shooting position. Begs the question of Why? Brown's pass was perfect-a goal scoring winger could not have asked for anything more for a setup pass and why Fro wasnt ready to crank it at the net kind of baffles me. That said- 2 games in a row with Frolov goals albeit last nights EN was a gimme, maybe a good sign nonetheless.

Simmonds- Simmonds has impressed me every game, he never takes a night off and is always willing to get his nose dirty. Throw him on the 1st line and see what happens.

Purcell- I like Teddy and really wanted this to be a break out year but it just doesnt look like its happening. His hustle was there a couple of plays but I just dont know if that is going to be enough to make that line click.

Lotki- Bummer to get injured in first NHL game but late November and December are rarely lucky times for the Kings. Welcome to the big club kid.

Handzus- Edmonton's announcers totally overblew the hit on Hemsky. I dont think Handzus intentionally went after him nor intended to hurt him. Looked like a play that is instinctive in the a player with puck possession attempts to go around the net and the defensive player simply tries to take him to the boards. If it was any Edmonton player the same play would have been made.

Souray- He has a bloated salary if Im not mistaken but he could play on my team anyday. He can hit, shoot the puck, play the pp, and a very good fighter with leadership qualities. Once again he may have a huge contract but he brings much more to the table then a Jeff Finger or Mark Streit for instance.

Nucks- Have both Sedin's in the lineup and if memory serves Kings generally dont play well on turkey day. Would be quite a coup to win back to back in Canada but that may be asking for too much. Nucks are a tough team as well....if Im the Coach I certainly try to play as physically as possible against the Kings. Bieska, Glass, Rypien, O'Brien...and thats not even including Hordichuk and that punk Alex Burrows. If ever there was a night for Ivanans to prove himself-it is now.

Chicago- Already one of the best teams in the conference, Marian Hossa played his first game of the season as the Hawks pounded the Sharks in their own barn. Was very surprised to see the Sharks being down at home 7-0 and no one on the roster tried to even get a scrap going. My question-isthis a sign of some trouble with Unity on the Sharks roster or merely a sign of today's NHL?

As always, look forward to your thoughts.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Flyers Squeak by Kings 3-2

Even in a tough loss......I thought the Kings played well. Generally....39 shots on goal will be enough to win the game but tonight it just didn't happen. The effort was there and if they can give that type of effort the rest of the season I don't think anyone should complain.

Some player thoughts.

Drewiske- there was a fantastic play he made in the second where he chipped the puck to Brown and as two flyers went after brown, Drewiske saw a chance for a potential breakaway and immediately moved into the open for the breakaway pass. As he gets more acclimated to play in the NHL-he is going to be a solid defensemen. The ability to make the right play and read the play is as important as skating and puck handling for Dmen....and he has been very impressive.

Brown- I'm really not sure what happened to him as of late. Is he nursing an injury or have the coaches put a leash on him? He threw the late hit on Richards-but also hasn't nearly been the ferocious check throwing monster he was earlier in his career.What's lost here is the element of Brown throwing the huge hit buys him time and space-without that element he is not going to get as many chances to score or make a play.

One Glaring problem I saw last night-why was no one shooting from the prime scoring area? And with Smyth on the shelf-do we have anyone willing to do battle in front of the net or go into the middle?

Doughty- someone in another thread said Doughty on the PP is a trainwreck. Megan Fox-shes a trainwreck. The Beatles-complete trainwreck. Lebron James- utter hopeless trainwreck. Add your own trainwreck here.

The play that led up to Doughtys PP goal was Doughty himself diving to swat the puck from a Flyer who was going to clear-on the dive he not only gets to the puck first-but moves it nicely to the player on the point who then passes it up to the winger. The Kings got back in position, the puck gets moved to Doughty were he fires and scores. If the definition of Trainwreck is "NHL Annually Nominated Norris Trophy Candidate" then by all means he is a trainwreck.

Frolov-Frolov doesnt look out of place on the 1st line and his work on the boards and puck positioning is outstanding. That said-Im not sure he has the awareness to parlay puck possession into hitting the open man on the pass. He was great bullcharging the puck straight to the net but sadly, it looked like the Flyers knew he was going to do it and had an answer for it everytime it was attempted. It didnt help that Boucher played a fantastic game-maybe on other goalies not playing as sharp or not as skilled this is a move that will start to payoff down the road.

Is it just me or does Scott Hartnell sport a huge head? He made JJs head and face look small....which really speaks volumes.

Mike Richards-what a stud. He may be the next Mark Messier as far as leadership skills and Captaincy skills go. I wont make an obvious comparison here but you can figure out where Im going with this.

I was unable to fully concentrate on the game as I was sending out some resumes, but those were a few of the notes I was able to take. Philly is a very good team...lets give them some credit as well.
Nothing to be ashamed of in a hard fought game. Only bummer here is they dont play the Ducks. Would have loved to see how Pronger and former teammates faced off.

On that same note- a few people on the hockey fight sites are saying that the Ducks/Tampa game tonight has all of the elements of a great physical game. Given the way Tampa played the Kings I hope they bring that same game. There was some talk of Artuychkin not being well liked in the locker room-so who knows that may be worth the watch.

One other note- The Pens/Sens game tonight has 2 teams that have combined for 34 fights on the year. That should be a pretty good matchup as well.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Kings End Road Trip in OT Style

Well after the debacle in Atlanta, I think we can all agree ending an east coast 5 game swing with a winning record is a great feeling. What may be one of the best feelings came when down by 2 goals, I still had a gut feeling the Kings were going to pull this one out.

Some thoughts-

Only 1 King finished the game with double digits points and that was none other then Randy Jones. Looks to be a very solid pickup so far. Of course had the short handed 2 on 1 ended up going back up ice instead on in the Panthers net we have been calling for his crucifixion.

Its once again a testament to the teams character to end up a long road trip with this type of efforts. After being down by 2 goals-they just dont give up. On that same note- Had Florida scored one more to make it 3-0 we would have been calling for TMs crucifixion for his not calling a TO to settle things down when they obviously looked a bit rattled.

Quick-He is still one of the NHLs elite, arguably not yet one of the upper echelon but I like the kids fire. On the 3rd goal he was upset and went right to the ref to discuss it, and after getting great results with the same action during the Tampa game-I really like his fire and his game. How many former Kings goalies would d have simply shrugged?

Wayne Simmonds- His scoring has cooled of late but he never disappears. He has been looking angry as of late so was nice to see him drop the gloves. McArdle is a tough kid and once again how can you not love the grit that Simmonds shows. He still needs to fill out a bit...hard to believe he is only 21. Remember it was Simmonds & Moller's great preseason last year that pretty much cost Brian Boyle his shot at starting the season with the club and almost without question made him expendable. Im not sure if I can hijack my own thread but Simmonds already has higher career point totals(Simmonds 34 to Boyles 13....another testament to the Al Murray years......ugh.)

Some thoughts from the first 2 periods-Florida was amazing at Blocking Shots. Kings had chances that simply were blocked outright and the shots they did get were all from the point and high and/or at a bad angle.

Florida is a bad team though. When Steve Reinprecht is the leading scorer you know you are a bad team. To put it into perspective, Reinprechts 14 points would have him 8th in scoring on the Kings. Would love to acquire Nathan Horton though. Maybe Frolov and picks for Horton? Frolov and Frolik really do deserve a shot to play on the same line.

Scott Parse is really growing on me. Not sure what happened in Tampa when he logged only 5 minutes in Ice Time but in his short stint he has clearly made Peter Harrold even more of a footnote.

I know its still very early in the season but if I were a betting man I would say this is the latest into the season since Gretzky, when the Kings had the leading scorer.

Floridas Coach had to be steaming at the holding the stick call on Kreps in the offensive zone. Horrible penalty to take at any time but in the offensive zone at that point in the game.....ouch.

Jack Johnsons Shoot Out move is sick. Im not sure if there is a better Dman in the league in Shoot Outs with the exception of Joe Corvo. Only difference here is that JJ occasionally plays defense and takes the body.

Lets hope Smyths injury is of the minor variety. If he and Scuderi are out for any period of time will be this season first true test of where the team is.

Some critical thoughts here- whats up with all of the 2 on 1s on the PK? Dont recall the last time we saw as many SH chances as tonight.

After logging 30 minutes in the last game-Doughty logged almost 28 minutes tonight. Guess Terry Murray
wanted to give his some rest. Doughty logged an assist and I should probably simply cut and paste the next part but Doughty is a phenom. His skating and decision making along with puck handling, passing, and shooting are off the charts.

The Coyotes lost tonight and for a blast from the past- Labarbara gave up 4 goals on 19 shots. I saw the last one and it was classic Labarbara where a Bolts player threw the puck in the crease, it went into Labarbaras skates and he ended up kicking it on his own. Good Times.

Kings now hold a 6 pt lead over the Yotes and the Stars. Bad news is they played 3 more games. Can you believe Dallas has 6 pts this season in OT losses? Here is some food for thought though-as the season goes on can Marc Crawford or Dave Tippet get more from their teams? In particular-I see Crawford wearing out his welcome quickly.

Making matter better is the Ducks lost again. I said at the start of the year they werent going be good-but I had no idea they were going to be this bad. With the Ducks luck they finish 4th worse, win the lottery and select #1 overall or-dont win the lottery select the 4th, and the player they select ends up being the best player anyhow. I hate the Ducks.

Next up-the Flyers and there always classy fan base.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Kings catch rare break in Tampa- day after thoughts

After some time to digest last nights victory here are some thoughts.

As disgusted as we all felt after the horror in Atlanta, last nights win showed this team has a ton of heart and character. Think about it, back to back games after getting their behinds kicked and then to face what was arguably the most physically played, physically demanding game of the season so far.

Kings teams in the past would have most certainly used this as an excuse to take another night and go through the motions, as a matter of fact my memories of Kings teams on East Coast swings in the 2nd night of a back to back has always been one of losing. Come to think of it, my memories of Tampa are always of us losing dating back to Robb Stauber unable to stop a penalty shot as well as my ill-fated road trip to Florida with Sean53 after the Allison trade to see the team play both Tampa and Florida miserably.

Was Reading Kings Insider where some people commented "Im still not impressed" to which I reply with "How long have you been a fan?" Really, with all of the stars and planets historically lined up against the Kings this victory should be savored like beating the Wings at home in the Joe.

Quick- I am still not sold that this is a turning point for him but he came out and he responded. The Malone goal may have been played better but stoning every Tampa shooter in the Shoot Out was a thing of beauty considering the Kings history of mediocre goaltending.

And while scoring has been tough lately-the willingness of every guy putting it on the line and giving 110% was a fantastic display of something we haven't seen in years. From Simmonds and Handzus to Richardson-players were really giving it their all. When was the last time we saw so many Kings players taking a hit to make a play?

I still think Adam Mair would be a nice addition to the team. I still think Derek Armstrong would be a nice addition as well.

Some other thoughts...

I had memories of Montreal watching Simmonds take an elbow to the head and then get called on a penalty for having the temerity to discuss it with the Bolts player. Very poor call. Reminded me of last years call in Montreal where Komisarek went after Brown after the whistle only see Brown somehow get a double minor and the Habs get a PP.

Ivanans-he is what he is but looks like he has a bad habit of fighting down to the level of his opponent. 2 Games, 2 mediocre bouts. Not that his role but his Puck Awareness has to be one of the worst in the league. How many times does the puck have to land at his feet and his not noticing the fact?

Richardson- He had over 15 minutes of ice time and while I love his compete level he left the zone early a couple of times that directly led to some Bolts chances.

Frolov- He dodged a real bullet last night when he made the same ill advised pass into the middle in lieu of getting the puck deep. It was basically the same play that got him benched earlier in the season and the same play that got us into trouble in Atlanta. I love the guy but someone else said it best in that for this team to be successful we need every guy on the roster visibly showing effort and making the right play- I said it in my season preview post and I stand by my words that I see him wearing a Detroit jersey sometime before his career is over.

Props to Rich Tocchet. After the game he would have been totally justified to go ballistic on the officials. On the replay after Quick's final game winning save during the shootout you could see Tampa players starting to jaw at the officials before Tocchet calmly called them to the bench and into the dressing room. You could see him saying things like "its over get inside" and "good work guys lets get dressed" and what not.

“There’s nothing you can do. It happens,” Tocchet said. “We had a couple chances in overtime, but it’s a tough one.”

I am not sure there are that many coaches in the NHL who after a loss in that fashion could seem even keeled-the fact it comes from Tocchet is even more surprising giving his style as a player. One could only imagine what the reaction would have been from Marc Crawford.

Final Thoughts- A win over Florida on Monday will have us finishing the road trip 3-2 which is acceptable to me given the troubling Chicago and Atlanta games. Florida is below .500 but also a team that will probably come out gunning. It will be yet one more final test of character as previous Kings team would easily use the "last game of a long road trip" as an excuse to mail in the effort. While given the season so far I don't think we will see that monday-its still not beyond the realm of possibility. Let's hope injuries to Scuderi and Handzus are minor. It's nice to know that if Scuderi cant go that Drewiske will be able to fill his spot. Seems it wasn't all that long ago that in injury to a defenseman late on a road trip would have see us being forced to use Doug Houda, Mark Visheau, Steve McKenna, or Arto Blomsten.

As always, look forward to your thoughts.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Power Plays in OT-ending the game without the shootout.

I was noticing how late in OT periods there have often times been penalties called with less then 1 minute left in the OT period. In an effort to settle more games without the shootout was thinking-Why not make the shorthanded team play out the entire PK? Instead of simply playing shorthanded until regulation OT ends-play out the OT period until the assessed penalty time ends. Thus- once the player serves out the penalty, then and only then can they go to the shootout.

For example, teams are at even strength when a player gets called for holding with 30 seconds left in the OT period. Normally, they would play the final 30 seconds and then go into the shootout. With my idea, the OT period would be extended until the PP was over thus giving the team on the PP an additional 90 seconds to score and since OT is played 4 on 4, a shorthanded team playing 4 on 3 the extra 90 seconds most likely would give at least an additional chance or two to end the game. So once again...if there is 15 seconds left in the OT period when an infraction is called. The Game Clock would be set to 2,4, or 5 minutes depending on the penalty and game play would continue until a goal is scored or the penalty time/game clock expires.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

NFL Talk-Michael Vick Unhappy with Role with Eagles

"I won't be a Wildcat guy. I can't," Vick told NBC. "It's a different style of play. It's almost like a hit-or-miss type of thing. My position is quarterback. That's what I was born to do."

So Vick by his own admission was born to be a QB. Lets examine his record. Vicks best season at QB came in the 2002 season where he finished the season with a QB rating of 81.6%; in 2004 his second best QB rating was 78.1%.

In 2002, once again the season in which Vick had his highest career QB rating-he was only 18th overall in the league in the category finishing with a worse rating then Tommy Maddox(85.2%), Jay Fiedler(85.2%), and Brian Griese(85.6%). As for TDs throw, Vick wasn't even in the top 20. Keep in mind, there are only 32 teams in the league of which Vick has never finished in the upper 50% in the vaunted QB rating.

In Vicks 2nd best season, his QB rating barely got him in the Top 20. Now keep in mind, these were Atlanta Falcon teams specifically built around Vick to utilize and capitalize on his strengths.

Vick is clearly talented, but wouldn't using him in the Wildcat or as a Slash type Kordell Stewart role be in his best interest and ideally suited for his skill set? Vick embracing this role would clearly serve as an additional weapon for any team he was a member of.

When one considers that current Eagle QB Donovan McNabb has clearly shown he is a superior QB and has the stats that validate and prove that fact. Since 2002, McNabbs worse QB% was 79.6-which is actually higher the Vicks 2nd Highest Rating in that Category. Think about that for a moment-since 2002 McNabbs worst season at QB% ranked higher then Vicks 2nd best finish.

It is clear by his own admission, Vick would rather play the lead role for a ship in which he has rarely been able to captain to success with any type consistency. And his refusal to take a lesser or different role in a capacity that would most likely increase his teams chances of achieving success in the Wins, shows that he is not a team player nor a player with any ability to self analyze. In other words-Vick is a prototypical selfish athlete.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Kopis 1st Hattrick, Kings win 5-4 over Stars

Had time to sit and watch the entire game and make some notes as well so I will get right to it.

Kopitars Hat Trick- How can you not be happy for this guy? What was most impressive that all 3 goals were scored differently. The First with the power move to the net, the second on a backhand, and the 3rd on a wrister.
His first goal was very reminiscent of his very first NHL goal in which he blew by Pronger.

Mark down this day as it is a historic one in that as Kopitar is tied for the league lead in Points I am positive no King has had the distinction for quite some time....probably since the Gretzky era if I had to wager.

On Kopis 3rd goal the replay shows Simmonds putting his glove out as if trying to knock the puck down or corral it out of mid air. You could see it distracted Auld a little bit which makes me think if Simmonds intentionally put his glove out as a distraction he has some amazing hockey sense. On that same note 1G 1 Assist and +3 PM on the night. I kind of get the feeling the Velvet Merkin could play on that line and put up numbers.

Even during the end of the Second I had noted the Quick was not looking very sharp. He was struggling positionally and communication with his d wasnt clicking at all. I cant really blame him on the first goal as it was a great shot right in the scoring area. The others.....eh not so much.

Horrible camera work for the Greene/Sutherby scrum. You could hear the crown reacting to something and then finally the camera gets there to see players skating to the box. Given they just got roughing penalties I know it wasnt exactly Probert/McSorely but none the less some sloppy work on the part of FSW.

Speaking of Greene, his play on the PK tonight was fantastic.

Was I the only who saw Morrow try and spear or take a jab at Quick in the 2nd? How about the flying elbow at Smyth in the 3rd?

Doughty-Finished a -2 on the night but his amazing blind back handed hold in off the puck in the 3rd on the PP along with his confidence with the puck in his own zone are plays that few players can make or in the case of puck control against defenders-even have the confidence to try to make. Doughty at 19 is playing better then Rob Blake did as a young dman in spite of fact Blake was 2 or 3 years older when he got his first taste of the NHL.

Handzus- he looked sluggish to me in the last couple of games but last night he was playing very well and looks to be getting warmed up. Wouldnt be surprised to see him score a couple of more goals in the next couple of games.

Drewiske- Still impressed with him. He skates well and continues to make good decisions with the puck.

Brad Richardson- Got over 6 minutes of ice time....much have been all in the 3rd period.

Purcell- Sorry my boy but you have got to step it up. You know your season isnt starting well when you find yourself playing on a line with Ivanans.

Trevor Lewis- See Purcell, Ted. Seriously though he is not ready at all to be an everyday player. He makes Peter Harrold look like Guy Carboneau.

Using Purcell and Lewis as examples-are there any two players in Manchester who would be an improvement over these two? Should we make a trade to bring back Armstrong? Food for thought.

Is it time for the NHL to use a different formula when calculating PK and PP%? Dallas was technically 0 for 4 on the PP but one of those came when the PP had 5 seconds. Wouldnt a better formula be to calculate a percentage based on some sort time to goal ratio?

Looking forward- Phoenix is going to be a challenge. They have been fantastic defensively all season. To give an idea the Kings have allowed 33 goals this season....Phoenix has allowed 12. Not to mention dating back to last year it seems like the Yotes really have the Kings number much in the same way the Kings have the Stars number. Im not a betting man but.....

As always, enjoy hearing your thoughts.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Kings Tackle Stars 4-1

Didnt take notes and pulling this stuff off the top of my head so here goes.

I really like Moller. Though he was held off the score sheet you can see the kids is a competitor There was a play in the 2nd I believe where he had control of the puck, got checked off the puck, and then went right back and threw a check on the Star who originally checked him. I have never claimed to be a hockey expert but one has to wonder-is a team better off with a 30 goal scorer with questionable work ethic or a 20 goal scorer who doesnt give an inch of ice?

Quick-29 Saves on 30 Shots now with a 2.88 GAA and .900 sv%. Not too shabby considering the Kings havent looked all the solid on D so far this season.

J Williams- 9 pts in 9 games. Nuff Said. If not for Smyth's red hot start he'd probably be getting more props. Honestly-most have us will be happy for him to finish the season with 20G 20Assists.

Team Toughness-Is it just me or does it look like we're being pushed around a bit more this year?

Crawford/Turco- If were take Crawford to court charged with being a horrible coach would not his starting Turco be exhibit A? I honestly think if the Kings needed win just 1 important game there is no goalie I would rather face then Turco. Over the last 3 seasons he is a .500 goalie against the Kings which speaks volumes since it doesnt seem that long ago when the Kings couldnt buy a win over Dallas.

On that same note-Great win but to me it looked more like the one two punch of Turco and a bad game by Dallas more so then great play by the Kings. Basically-the Stars had no answer for our first line.

Doughty was a +2 so hopefully he is rounding into form and shaking off some early play that had me thinking sophomore slump.

Drewiske is a +6 on the season and has been very solid. I called it last season saying that Drewiske is without question an upgrade over Gauthier. He may not bring the snarl but he is certainly smarter with his decision making.

Nice to Wayne Simmonds looking a bit more like his old self. He has to bring a tenacious, physical game every night or he is no different then Brad Jones,Ilka Sinasalo, or Randy Gilhen. On that same note-he had a few empty nets goals in preseason and got his first of the year last night-does the NHL keep stats on Empty Net goal leaders?

I still like Brad Richardsons play this year. He is like a less skilled Oscar Moller but he competes and plays hard. Granted you cant have too many guys like this in the lineup.

Can only speculate what the Frolov benching will bring about. I am sure there are teams making some offers as well as some talk about whether or not to extend his contract and moving forward maybe some type of sign and trade options. Dont really believe the Sharks rumors myself and think any trade may happen with an Eastern Team. Maybe to Carolina w/a prospect for Ruutu and Gleason?

Looking forward to Thursdays game. Hopefully some rest and home cooking will bring some health and energy. Would make a Turco comment here but dont want to jinx it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Kings Outclassed in Goal-Fall 4-2 to Rags

Watched most of tonights game sans the stretch of the 1st period that wasnt shown due to technical difficulties. Here are some thoughts and some breakdown/recaps of the goals and assorted player thoughts.

Rangers 1st goal-just a good solid deflection. A great low shot perfectly deflected. Cant really blame anyone here but perhaps OD could have taken the shooter out of the play or tied his stick up or something. Still small potatoes in the big picture. There are the types of goals scored at the NHL level and barring the goalie making a spectacular save there isnt much you can do about it. Ironically the Kings 1st goal wasn't too all different then the Rangers in a top notch deflection by a skilled forward. I thought Drewiske played very well in the 1st Period.

Rangers 2nd goal was pure unadulterated slop. Ersberg was off all night and this really was the harbinger of things to come. HUG THE POST! After all it's only one of the goalies fundamental plays in those situations. Some could probably quibble about the legality of the review but to me it was a good goal and had it been waived off would have been a huge break for the Kings; that in the end they would have needed but in this case didnt deserve as it looked very much like a good goal to me. Boyle's goal was yet another that should have been stopped. You can of new he was going to score though and if I'm not mistaken that goal turned out to be the game winner. Ironically, Boyle took a lazy hooking penalty that we saw a lot in his couple of cups of coffee with the team and I couldn't but think how humorous it could be had Torterella sent Boyle to the AHL for that play in spite of his GWG.

Jack Johnson showed some amazing skill for the Kings 2nd and final goal of the game. You could see his skating and puck handling skills as he straddled the blue line before launching the shot, but what really showed some NHL moxie was the replay clearly shows before he takes the shot he looks over to a teammate to give the opposing teams players the idea that he is going to pass or at least thinking about. When they talk about player intangibles-well there is one heck of an example. Goal went to Handzus, who was really in the right place right time more then anything else, and I will get into that a bit later.

The Rangers final goal really was the back breaker. Gaborik fires off a nice shot but is from a horrible shooting angle that Ersberg should have had all the way. The Rangers final 3 goals were all pretty much stoppable IMO, and if one had to summarize the game it pretty much came down to skilled Lundqvist outplaying his lee talented Swedish counterpart in Ersberg, and the shot totals back that assertion.

Some player and general thoughts.

Apart from Ivanans bad penalty in the 1st, the 4th line played very well. When your 4th line can keep the play in the opposing teams end for a prolonged period of time regularly-you have to figure the Coach was pretty happy with the effort. Richardson and Harrold both played well and for their roles-did an outstanding job. Shout out to Terry Murray who put Simmonds on this line late in the 3rd to generate more offense.

Ersberg-just looked sloppy and out of control for the whole game. I felt more secure with Jack Johnson defending the empty net then anytime with Ersberg in goal. Granted we may cut a bit of slack being his first game and all but a couple of more performances like this means the Kings should prepare to get Zatkoff or Bernier a try; or if they the Monarchs Tandem to get extra time trade for an established NHL backup.

Handzus- he got lucky with his right place right time goal but all in all he looked very sluggish to me the whole game. There was no jump in his step at all and he looked very timid in his decision making. Not blaming the loss on him by any stretch-but he certainly wasnt one of the more noticable Kings forwards in spite of the fact he scored.

Jack Johnson-Fantastic game. So far this season I think one could argue that he has outplayed Doughty. He was pretty much everywhere and played pretty solidly IMO sans a couple of miscues on the PP. See Next Item.

OD- he was the defensive equivalent of Handzus tonight. He looked like he was having a hard time picking up the puck and wasn't really on his game in terms of puck awareness. One can argue that's not really his game but he along with some others just looked like they couldn't find or anticipate the puck or the play very well.

Simmonds- He has got to step it up a bit. There are players like Scuderi when you dont notice them, figure they are doing their job-but Simmonds is not afforded that luxury. If he is not scoring, he needs to be hitting, if he is not hitting he needs to be driving the net-games in which we don't notice Simmonds does not reflect well on players in his role. Frolov made a very strong power move to the goal in the 1st-and while he didn't score and sadly didn't do it the rest of the game this is something I think Simmonds needs to do more of.

Dustin Brown-Played very well. Looks like he is stepping his game up and was much more noticeable then previous games. There was a shift in the first were he threw 3 hits and then made a beeline to the Rangers goalmouth to set the screen. It didn't payoff but you could see the Rangers dmen were having a hard time keeping Brown out of the play. For a guy who ended the game with no points, to me it looked like Brown and his team leading 5 shots on goal was the hungriest forward tonight.

Kings PP looked out of sync to me and all in all the team passed up many opportunities to get shots on goal from the prime scoring areas and decided to pass it off or make the one extra ill advised move that stopped the momentum. Not saying they are horrible-just maybe not the best shot selection or hunger around the net. Will say on the PPs defense that there was a horrible non call on a blatant interference against Smyth. Blatant penalty IMO that would have given the Kings a 5 on 3 with plenty of time. A case of would have, could have, should have without question though and its conjecture anyhow.

Overall in spite of some criticisms, I thought the team for the most part played pretty well out shooting the Rags 36-21 in spite of at least 5 more chances passed up in the prime scoring areas. Really came down to Lundqvist making the big saves when he had too and using his calming influence to settle down the Rangers players in spite of the fact they only had one shot on goal in the 3rd. With a lesser goalie in net this is a game the Kings would have won, with a better goalie in net for the Kings this is a game the Kings could have won. Rangers got the goaltending, Kings didn't. And on this night the 14th of October-that is exactly how history will remember how this game went down.

I would also be remiss if I didn't mention the 3 Stars of the Week graphic with Heatley, Quick, and Sedin. Surely I wasn't the only who looked at the pics and thought "Wow, 2 hockey players and someones little brother."

Next Up Detroit. If the Kings play like they did tonight as far as applying offensive pressure, getting solid play from all forward lines, and Quick can play as well as he has of late-there is no reason the Kings cant get at least a point out of tomorrows game. Detroit only has 2 wins on the season and Osgood's GAA is over 3.60 so if the effort of tonight's game is there tomorrow I don't think it's unreasonable that the team will score more then 2 goals.

As always look forward to your thoughts and hopefully will have the time to do a recap/opinion piece after tomorrow night's game.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I am Glad we got that out of the way….

Another year of Kings hockey is here and while I generally view the upcoming season with excitement and refreshed at the notion that I will never have to watch another baseball game (via default with no other sports being broadcast) and with both the NFL and NHL in full swing I always consider this a time for renewal and re invigoration. What we tend to forget as Kings fans is as great as it is to hear Bob Miller-hearing's his Voice also means the very likely possibility of the Kings losing. It was a long summer….we tend to forget things like losing in disappointing fashion and the all too common frequency in which losses occur. That said- Here are some thoughts in what will be this season's Inaugural edition of Hip's Thoughts.

Breakdowns- While the scoreboards may suggest an ass kicking I really boil it down to the Kings giving, and yes I said the word GIVING, several golden chances to the Yotes with turnovers directly in the scoring area with the Yotes seemingly being able to capitalize on every one of them. Be it the poor play by Simmonds or Doughty-turnovers are never good but when they happen not only in your own end-but in the prime scoring areas as well is really a recipe for disaster and more than any other single mitigating factor can be attributed to the loss. On the bright side it only took 1 game for me to use my patented line of "Kings are in mid-season form."

Sloppy play-After the 1st period I couldn't help but think the entire team looked like they had the opening night jitters and in vain hoped the 2nd and 3rd would be better. But it was obvious that this was not going to be their night and they were not going to be able to make any type of crisp pass or have any type of sustained attack. If the Yotes plan was to simply pressure and wait for turnovers-it worked perfectly.

Some Player Thoughts-

Smyth/Kopitar/Williams-Is there any doubt that this line is going to a lot of fun to watch this season? In particular I love the way Smyth doesn't waste any time in bring the puck hard to the net almost every time. Behind the net there was no wait for someone to jump up for the pass-he simply brings it out and tries to stuff it in. I can't recall the last time we had a player who was so willing to go to the front. As for Williams-he may have been held off the score sheet but he consistently makes the right play. If he can end the season at least a 20 Goal 20 Assist guy and play his solid top end game the mgmt is going to be very happy.

More importantly I hope Dustin Brown takes some notes. See Item B.

Item B- I know Brown tends to be a lot of peoples whipping boy which is underserved IMO. That said- Now that he has reduced pressure to score shouldn't he picking up the hitting? I am not sure he threw one check on the night. Especially once the game was almost out of hand would have been a fantastic time to start taking the body and send the proverbial message that victory's come with a price. I mean how happy must the Yotes locker room have been after the game-not only did they win but didn't even have to pay a price physically to do so?

Martinez-without question he looked overmatched. The bottom D positions should certainly be one of the "play well play again" philosophy and I don't think Martinez played well enough to play again on Tuesday. Harrold should get a kick at the can IMO.

Teddy Purcell-I love the hands and skill of this guy but he was invisible and being this is Game 1 of the season, at home no less, this is not a good sign.

Doughty-a horrible turnover but without question he an elite talent. Once Scott Niedermayer retires Doughty will probably be the clear cut best defenseman in the Pacific. He finished with 27 points last season and 2 points last night. Given the amount of ice time he will see the season its not unconceivable for Doughty to hit the 50 point mark.

Simmonds- High expectations for him but he and Brown both were invisible physically. I don't expect Simmonds to be a huge goal scoring machine but do expect him to play a hardnosed 2 way game. When the chips are down taking the body has never hurt anyone, if only for the home fans enjoyment.

Jack Johnson- Props to JJ for at least being the one guy on the team with the decency to attempt to get something going physically. His 2 minute coincidental roughing with Upshall was about the only show of aggression that came from any of the Kings players tonight. Its just one game-but someone is going to have to pick up some slack and set some type of example during games like these and I respect JJs snarl.

Quick-I thought one or two of the goals were questionable but all in all with the number of chances given to the Yotes in prime scoring areas I am not sure he is to blame. It must have been very hard to see the Kings have to claw and scratch to earn all of their 3 goals scored in the game while most of the Coyotes chances were given on a silver platter.

1 Down, 81 to go. Looks like our dreams of having an undefeated season have gone up in smoke. With games upcoming against San Jose and Minnesota hopefully we can rise to the challenge of the Sharks and continue the momentum against the Wild. Truth be told, starting off the season 1-2 wouldn't be the worst thing in the world nor spell doom though some probably will call it so. No more stupid turnovers, no more risky passes, and take the body-3 simple keys to getting back on track.

With that the NFL is starting and my Fantasy Team has the Baltimore Defense going against the Patriots. I think I'll fix me a bowl of Wheaties and make myself an Irish Coffee and do my best to put last nights ugly incident behind me.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

How can you not be impressed with Wayne Simmonds? This guy really looks to have been a fantastic pick. Taken with the last pick in the 2nd rd of the 2007 draft(61st overall selection), Simmonds is actually the 5th highest scorer of all players in that draft. But what impresses me more is the fact that Simmonds is really not only hard nosed but rarely loses a fight.

Looking at his fight card as a pro-he only has a handful of loses with none being of the real ass kicked type of loss. The fights he has lost has been to Travis Moen and a debatable loss on points to Mike Brown. Certainly no shame in losing to Travis Moen by any stretch.

Amazing to think that Simmonds has actually scored more the Kyle Turris, though its still early in both of their careers.

Anyhow, here is a breakdown of Simmonds fights as some food for thought with a couple of clips. If Simmonds can be a 20+goal guy who scraps and is solid defensively its hard to think that Simmonds may very well turn out to be one of the best 5-10 players in the 2007 draft.

2007 Draft Stats

Wayne Simmonds Fight Card

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hockey is Back; Preseason Game Review

Some thoughts and opinions on the first Kings-Yotes Preseason Game held at Staples Sept 15th.

Kopitar/Williams/Smythe- Hands down the elite players of the game which is kind of a no brainer. At times watching them move the puck was kind of like playing NHL2009 using the Eastern All Stars against the Italian National Team. Williams, provided he stays healthy, is going to be a great fit with Kopitar. He has speed and 95% of the time makes the correct play/pass/dump in etc etc. Smythe is slow-but his game is that of bull rushing the puck strong to the net not blowing by defenders so its a non factor IMO.

JJ- between him and Doughty the Kings really do have two of the elite young Dmen in the game. His rush up center ice Shorthanded was arguably one of the best plays I have ever witnessed from a Dman preseason game albeit.

Hickey-This was the first time I have ever watched him a true real game if Im not mistaken and everything said about him is true. He is a great skater, with great poise, never looks rattled and has amazing composure for a rookie Dman. There was a move he made coming back on day where he made a pivot from skating front to back and made an swooping arc to find himself in perfect position to play the attack. Im not sure Hickey will ever be a true top 4-but with PP time and select situations should be able to regularly put up 20-30 pts a season. Consider him a Mike Weaver with top notch skills.

Moller-he was invisible in the first 2 periods but along with Purcell came to life in the 3rd. After the first preseason game neither here nor there though.

Lotkionov- I am sure he is a stud but I really didn't see anything tonight. Not saying he sucks or a bust yada yada yada but to me he looked like your prototypical young prospect adapting to the pro game and looking a bit lost....which is to be completely expected at this point.

Schenn-Some of the same points as Lotkionov here but, did notice he is a very strong skater. He made some backward stop and go moves that kept right up with the point man he was covering. I can totally see the solid 2 way player/character/leader scouting reports about him. Having him develop into a young Rob Brindamour type certainly wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

Westgarth-Held his own with the monster who is Mitch Fritz. Fritz got the better hold and pretty much was able to keep out of Range of Westgarths punches. Decision Fritz-but not an ass beating by any stretch.

Teubert- Simply not ready. He pulled the same play tonight he pulled in the rookie game taking a stupid double minor for little reason. He needs to work on his positional play, pick his spots physically, and play with more discipline. You can expect that type of play out of Rich Clune but given expectations and being a high draft pick seeing tons of ice time in the AHL or ECHL is the best thing for him.

Bernier-Not Horrible, Not Fantastic. Looked pretty much like an above average goalie IMO but certainly not in the class that Quick played last season. Be interesting to see what happens as the preseason game progress to see his level of play.

As for the Coyotes-They may very well finish in the bottom 5 but look to be a pretty tough team. Lots of size and pretty adept at the rough game.

All in all pretty much what you would expect for the first preseason game.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Jonathan Cheechoo; Anatomy of a Free Fall

Amidst a ton of rumors regarding the San Jose Sharks shopping Jon Cheechoo, I had to speculate and thought it would make a great topic to ask the question, "What Happened to this Guy?"

His rookie season was amazing, looked like he was going to be a pretty good sniper with a long fruitful career. Now he is the subject of almost every trade rumor out of SJ, and his stats have gotten worse every year.

2002-03 SJ 66 9 7 16
2003-04 SJ 81 28 19 47
2005-06 SJ 82 56 37 93
2006-07 SJ 76 37 32 69
2007-08 SJ 69 23 14 37
2008-09 SJ 66 12 17 29

To give an idea...last year his stats were comparable to Wayne Simmonds.

Wayne Simmonds RW 82 9 14 23

My questions are...

What makes a guy who popped 56 goals in 2006 all of a sudden drop his goal production drastically? A 34 goal drop in production from 06 to last season. How does that happen? And its not like Cheechoo was a fluke, he was the 29th player taken overall in the draft so it wasn't like he came out of nowhere. And if he potted a ton of goals playing with Joe Thornton; what happened to that chemistry that prevented the two from maintaining and keeping any semblance of consistency? The formula worked and worked big in 2006-what made it fail in 2007 with a 20 goal loss of production?

I don't follow the sharks on a daily basis and would welcome thoughts from hardcore Sharks fans as to why, when, and how Cheechoo's career is apparently in a free fall.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Thoughts on the Upcoming Season

Thoughts on the Upcoming Season

With training camp right around the corner I thought I would take a few moments to ponder and pontificate.

I can’t shake the feeling that next year at the time Alexander Frolov will be wearing a Red Wings jersey. I have no sources, and nothing at all to back it up but it saddens me greatly in that it is so easy to visualize. I hope and I pray that the powers that be can sign him to an extension but once again I can’t help but think we’re not that far away from seeing him sporting the Winged Wheel.

One of the posters recently came out with a serious lambasting of Dean Lombardi and used the Ryan Smyth trade as a specific example thereof. While I was very pleased with the trade one must also consider the ill-fated history the team has had with luck. There is a literal laundry list of “would haves”, “could haves”, “should haves”, and “if onlys” we can only laugh about to the point where as if I were a betting man I would have to begrudgingly bet that there is a greater likelihood of Smyth having a down year then an up year simple as that. I won’t get into specifics, nor use any past examples as to not jinx the angry hockey gods but the scenario generally plays out as this; New Player comes in with high expectations, fans get excited; New Player starts off well, fans applaud management; New Player starts to fade on scoreboard or suffers injury setback, Saddened Fans try their best stay patient and optimistic; Team stars to fall in standing while fans turn on management; Team falls well out of playoff contention and we once again are treated to the annual draft day deadline minute by minute watch to see what draft picks we acquire for next year. Once again, I don’t like it-but it is a formula that has been fairly consistent.

I am optimistic though between the pipes. I felt had we gotten some consistent play the start of last season may have given us something to build on as the season wore on; instead the first ¼ of the season proved to be another goaltending nightmare that had me missing Roman Cechmanek. Jon Quick gave us the best goaltending we have had since Felix Potvin played his last hot streak before going gently into that good night known as retirement. The same could probably even be said about Ersberg, who before Quick’s emergence showed at least to have some fundamentals that’s rarely be known as a staple of Kings goaltending. With Bernier and Martin Jones on the way, say what you will about Lombardi but this is the best pipeline of goaltenders the franchise has ever had.

The addition of Rob Scuderi is certainly something to be excited about. During last year’s Stanley Cup Finals I noticed Brooks Orpik was playing incredible hockey in his own end, this year however it was Scuderi I noticed leading the charge. While I will miss Kyle Quincey’s ability to get the shot on net during the PP, I can’t help but think you can never have too many Solid Defensemen. Once again, for a team long recognized as the Escort Service and some other not so kindly names one can only be excited entering the season with a Top 5 of solid defensemen and the 6 spot to be filled with some very high end competition. It doesn’t seem that long ago we were looking at a 34 year old Garry Galley as our defensive savior. We now have a very solid Top 5 and god forbid a Thomas Hickey, Colton Teubert, or Viat Voynov take the next step it will be quite an impressive defensive roster.

Would I like to see us add a Zherdev to the roster? I absolutely would. Much like when we acquired Felix Potvin-apart from the glut of forwards already competing for a precious few open spots I really see this a low risk, high reward signing. Apart from shelling out the cash to pay him, there really is everything to gain and nothing to lose. The only downsides is, and correct me if I am wrong, but would he not then become a UFA at the end of the season?

One would be apt to think question marks may lie in the forward positions, but compared to last season at this time we actually now have 2 legitimate top 6 forwards lacking last season in Justin Williams and the aforementioned Ryan Smyth. By comparison last season those two spots were being filled by Patrick O’Sullivan and Matt Moulson. Williams, in particular will be a great addition. It took him a bit to get in the groove after his injury but you could see where he is accustomed to and can make the top end NHL caliber plays that the high end players make. With Williams and Smyth, the top 6 is very solid.

I have yet to see any pictures so can’t confirm but if the rumors of Oscar Moller having bulked up and given that Wayne Simmonds simply picks up where he left off last season, any prospects hoping to crack the roster are really going to have to have one heck of a camp. Realistically, I only see a couple of openings possible for forward positions given the players below are almost 100% assured of making the final roster. Brown, Frolov, Handzus, Ivanans, Kopitar, Moller, Simmonds, Smyth, Stoll, Williams would assumedly all make the roster. Purcell will probably be option #1 for the making the roster and would appear to be a front runner barring a horrible camp. Westgarth probably does not make the team simply by virtue of Ivanans under contract and doing adequate job of filling the enforcer role last season. Zeiler, Clune, Brad Richardson, Cliché, and Trevor Lewis and top candidates as well barring one of the recent draftees knocking the coaching staffs socks like Moller and Simmonds did last year. Most likely they will be looking for a defensive minded player who can bang a bit and excel at face offs to center the 4th line. I would think Richardson or Lewis probably may have an edge but the possibility of someone in camp stepping up is always there and possible.

One thing is for sure, much like the competition for the #6 defenseman; competition for the final couple of roster spots is going to be fierce and who ever earns those final spots will really have to earn them. Once again, this a great example of the progress being made as it wasn’t that long ago when players were earning spots via default as the lack of the depth in the system made players earning roster spots. Tom Kostopolous, Brian Wilsie, Kyle Calder, & Jeff Giuliano all come to mind.

I hope Terry Murray’s coaching track record holds true. In full seasons in which he has coached, Murray has only once not had at least a 17 point improvement over that of the previous season. The one time Murray failed to do so was at the helm of the Flyers, the caveat being he led to a 103 point season in his first year and matched that total again in his second season. If that hold true with his 17 point improvement would mean the Kings finishing with 96 points. A daunting task considering that figure would give the Kings their 3rd best season in franchise history. Quite frankly, anything over the 90 point mark would be a triumph considering the Kings haven’t hit that mark since 2002.

All in all, it really is exciting time to be a fan. Of course there is the always real and tangible possibility of the team under achieving or being plagued by injuries. That can be said for almost every team in the NHL but for some reason with the Kings the likelihood always seems to be a bit greater and more likely. Camp is just around the corner and should be fun, in particular the battle for 6th Defenseman will be a great watch considering the high talent pool of players competing for it.

Will also be interesting to watch how the roster gels considering this is probably the most balanced team that we have had in years….maybe the best ever as ironic as it seems given the lack of success over the last 7 years. One must consider even during the Gretzky glory years where the high end talent was among the league’s best, the 3rd and 4th lines were still made up by the likes of Todd Elik, John Macintyre, Brad Jones, Scott Bjugstadt, and other borderline NHL players or established NHLers who were the end of their careers.

What else can be said but...is August the longest and slowest month of the year and can September come already?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Washed Up and Past their Prime-Stats after age 33

With the talk about Smythe's age and playing style I was curious to see how power forwards did after they reached age 33. Of course there are some injury exceptions like Deadmarsh, Neely, Wendel Clark but here are some examples of other players and how they faired in later years the age of 33 and beyond.
Kind of interesting food for thought.

Shanahan G Goals
2003-04 Detroit Red Wings NHL 82 25
2005-06 Detroit Red Wings NHL 82 40
2006-07 New York Rangers NHL 67 29
2007-08 New York Rangers NHL 73 23

Dino Cicarelli G Goals
1993-94 Detroit Red Wings NHL 66 28
1994-95 Detroit Red Wings NHL 42 16 Shortened Season
1995-96 Detroit Red Wings NHL 64 22
1996-97 Tampa Bay Lightning NHL 77 35

Pat Verbeek G Goals
1995-96 New York Rangers NHL 69 41
1996-97 Dallas Stars NHL 81 17
1997-98 Dallas Stars NHL 82 31
1998-99 Dallas Stars NHL 78 17

Tkachuk G Goals
2005-06 St. Louis Blues NHL 41 15
2006-07 St. Louis Blues NHL 61 20
2006-07 Atlanta Thrashers NHL 18 7
2007-08 St. Louis Blues NHL 79 27

Rick Tocchet G Goals
1996-97 Washington Capitals NHL 13 5
1997-98 Phoenix Coyotes NHL 68 26
1998-99 Phoenix Coyotes NHL 81 26
1999-00 Phoenix Coyotes NHL 64 12

Ironic thing about Tocchet is he hadnt had a 20 goal season since the 92-93 season with the Pens....yet had 2 back to back 5 years later.

John Leclair G Goals
2002-03 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 35 18
2003-04 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 75 23
2005-06 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 73 22
2006-07 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 21 2

Found this very interesting and I hope you did too. Feel free to post some othe r33= stats from other power forwards. I was going to post K Stevens but Im sure he was well washed up or smoked up I should say by then.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Stanley Cup Coverage-Way to miss the big story NBC!

Congrats to the Pens in winning the cup first and foremost but I have got to pick one bone hear that reflects on the coverage and the NHLs perpetual plan to not broadcast moments in the game that are compelling.

Case in Point-Why was there no Camera and Mic available for the handshake between Babcock and Bylsma? Why was there no clip of Bylsma on the bench as a member of the Ducks with Babcock behind him? Why was this angle all but ignored? Did the powers that be not know this at all or did they simply feel the people watching didnt care? Any other sport surely would have been billing the matchup as "the Student vs the Teacher" or some other angle to compel viewers into watching.

During the post game handshake TSN of course was smart enough to jump on the Crosby/Lidstrom debate and I wont fault NBC or the NHL for missing this angle since between the both of they do a piss poor enough job of covering the game anyhow.

That said-why no mics during the post game handshake? There was a brief exchange you could hear with Crosby and Babcock where Babcock said something like "you showed great leadership" or something to that effect but why werent there mics all over the place? I am sure there must have been one pen at the least to give at least a 1/2 jab at Hossa-but I guess we will never know and once again-was I missing their covering this part of the series and the story? And further more-why does the NHL continually fail to market the most marketable aspect of the game?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

NHL-the Cowards of the Sports World

Just finished watching the Canucks/Hawks game and have to say......

The Refs at the end of the game were incredibly Cheesie in their calls. Because Vancouver is down of course they're going to play physical but-none of those plays in the final minutes were worth 10 minute misconducts. I'm not sure they were worth two minute minors.

Byfuglien finishes with a clean hard check, Vancouver over-reacts and Byfuglien gets a 10 minute misconduct? Outright Ridiculous. Same with the Toews penalty...for him to get a 10 minute misconduct on that play is a travesty of justice.

The NHL is trying so hard to make sure that no one crosses the line that they're applying punishments to penalties that weren't even committed. Looking at the box score youd the game ended in a free for all but to see what actually happened on the ice is a bigger outrage then one team trying to goon it up in the final minutes.

Its one thing to try and keep a game in check-its another to start handing out major penalties for infractions that might not even warrant minor penalties in the regular season.

Because a team is up by a couple of goals in an opponents home building-does that change the rules on what it and isnt a roughing or a cross checking? Complete BS.

The NHL shakes in its boots when people accuse it of being violent and resorts to handing out silly penalties and 10 minute misconducts on a whim to pacify the critics-its a monstrosity that not only shows the NHL as a bunch of cowards but hurts the mainstream fanbase who sees a 2 minute minor penalty at best in regular season called a 10 minute major simply because of the scoreboard, the time in the game, and the location of the game. A real travesty to the games integrity if you ask me.

Sorry, but lame over the line knee jerk officiating is worse then last minute thuggery IMO. When the refs can start handing out 10 minutes for imaginary infractions to keep a game from "getting out of hand" is simple the refs taking huge liberties with the rule books to prevent something that may or may not happen anyway.
The refs jobs are to anticipate and prevent something that "may" happen...its to call and penalize on ice events that actually do happen.

Im ashamed of the NHL, and will call it like I see it and say this is simply one more reason to hate Gary Bettmann and one more reason why the NHL is behind the Rodeo and Womens Basketball in TV ratings.

To think that the Late Mike Brown hit to the head causing an injury will go down to in the history books as the same penalties given to Jon Toews and Dustin Byfuglien at the end of this game is an outright travesty. Seriously-for people who follow the NHL this to me does more damage to the image then the late minute line brawl. How many fans for both teams were left feeling disgusted at the end of the game? Alex Burrows could have stuck his tongue at the Hawks bench and been given a game misconduct the way the refs were liberally applying the rules. Makes me sick and long for the good old days when sending a message for the next game meant more the putting a glove in the face and getting hot and bothered over a text book clean hit.


Monday, April 13, 2009

NHL Playoffs-3 or 4 must watches 1....not so much

Actually I will watch them all but here are 3 series I cant wait to see....

Sharks Vs Ducks-Honestly I cant think of a better matchup. The teams hate each other and last game saw Perry punch Brian Boucher in the back of the head and all hell break loose. Wild Card Draw-Travis Moen steps it up in the playoffs and will be interesting to see if he drops with any of his old teammates. Will be interesting to see if old whathisname wearing #4 for the Sharks will do the same. For the Record-Im calling the Ducks as much as it pains me to do so. Ill take it a step further and say the Ducks will go to the Western Finals and would not surprise me at all to see them win another cup. After that I will go back to drinking arsenic and experimenting with both uppers and downers and do my best impression of Chris Farley doing his impression of John Belushi doing his impression of Elvis doing his impression of Hank Williams. Are there any legendary figures pre Hank Williams famous for self inflicted deaths. If I use the name Emily Dickenson-would that be the time that name has ever been used in a hockey post?


Caps vs Rags-This one I will watch for one reason and one reason only....Ovechkin vs Avery. Avery did a great job of getting Kovalchuk off his game last year and I expect more of the same.

For the 3rd series Im stuck between the Pens and Flyers or the Hawks/Flames. Pens and Flyers is always a battle and Crosby fought not all that long ago...should be a dandy. I predict there will be one game in this series that will go into 4 or 5 OT periods. For the Hawks/Flames just a gut feel. Will Cammi step it up or dissapear? Will the Hawks young guns fell the pressure or fold? Will the series be a bloody fight filled series? We can only hope as much.

The series to miss altogether- Carolina vs the Devils. Boring Boring Boring. Since Scott Stevens retired the Devils arent nearly as entertaining and Carolina along with the rest of South Eastern division was always the games I skipped over on Center Ice. I expect to see a lot of 2-1 and 3-1 games.

Regardless, is there a better time of year then now?