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.