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.