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 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.