LOS ANGELES KINGS SEASON PREVIEW: FORWARD THINKING, SECOND CHANCES

In a perfect world, Anze Kopitar plays 60 minutes per game and scores 250 points.

In this world, the Kings’ need a strong second line.  Taking the ice behind the big guns to start the 2010-2011 season will be Scott Parse and Justin Williams flanking Jarret Stoll.

In the perfect world, this is a good line.

In our world, its a bit of a gamble.

Second chances can refer to many things in hockey.  A juicy rebound.  A non-call on an obvious penalty.  An extra face-off with seconds remaining on the clock.  A chance at redemption.

The Kings’ second line is all about a shot at redemption.

Jarret Stoll “A Heavy Heart with a Heavy Shot”

Stoll represents, at the same time, one of the more important players for the Kings, as well as one of their larger holes.

There are few who haven’t asked themselves the question (though most don’t bother to rhyme, consider it a bonus, from me to you), “is Stoll a second line center on a Stanley Cup contender?”

The popular answer is no.

However, TMZ is popular and TMZ is trash.  Stoll, having been the subject of TMZ ‘whose dating who’ stories on more than one occasion, would be quick to point out that he WAS the second line on a team that contended for the Cup.  In 2005-2006, Stoll helped take the Edmonton Oilers to the Stanley Cup finals, where they eventually lost to the Carolina Hurricanes.  That season, Jarret posted his career best numbers of 22 goals and 46 assists for 68 points.

Now those are second line center contender numbers.

18g 23a 41p.

16g 31a 47p.

Those are not.  They are, however, Stoll’s scoring stats during his Kings’ tenure.  The Kings need Stoll to be better than he has been.   They need Stoll to be that 68 point centerman once again.

However,  if the best Kopitarians among us can admit that even the almighty Anze needs a good winger or two, then certainly Stoll is no exception to the rule of support.

Scott Parse “Top 3 in skill”

I do not claim that Scott “Scooter” Parse is top 3 on the Kings’ roster in any category.  Dean Lombardi begs to differ.  Straight from the boss comes the opinion that Scooter is one of the top 3 most skilled players the Kings possess.

Mind you, Lombardi emphasized “raw skill.”  This is because Scott Parse is far from the top of a more important category: consistency.

We have seen Scott Parse score incredible goals.  He has deked, hustled and wristed his way onto not only the Kings’, but the NHL Network’s highlight reels.  We have also seen Scooter disappear in the middle of a tight game, and subsequently vanish to Manchester.

At the moment, the only thing keeping Scott Parse off of the Kings’ second line left wing is the fact that it isn’t October 9 yet.  Terry Murray told Rich Hammond at training camp:

“He needs to gain my trust. He needs to show me that he can bring that every day, in practice and games, so that I can trust him, to keep going with him, and he can respond to that challenge. I’m going to give him the opportunity.”

So its settled.

But the questions are far from answered.

There are turning points in everyone’s life.  Mark this season as a very large one for Parse.  Should Parse play sound defensively for 82 games, and score 20 or more goals in the meantime, he will not only have gained the trust of his coach, but also single-handedly made the Kings’ failed attempt at putting a crown on Ilya Kovalchuk’s chest sufficiently inconsequential – with some positive assumptions about Ryan Smyth’s performance, of course.

You have every reason to be skeptical.  You have little reason to worry.

If Parse squelches this golden opportunity, he will follow in the footsteps of Matt Moulson and Teddy Purcell and find himself playing hockey in another city.  However, the Kings have several second chances of their own for Stoll’s left wing slot should Parse blow his own second chance.  Oscar Moller would be happy to step in and strut his stuff.  Andrei Loktionov seems like he was born to be a 2nd line left winger.  Brad Richardson has been to the mountain top, and it is good.  The Kings’ season does not rely heavily upon Parse’s performance.  While we want him to succeed, the team as a whole, does not need him to rise to the occasion in order to obtain the playoff berth they require.

The next time Scott Parse hears his coach talking his ear off about consistency, the winger will do well to remember, you only get so many second chances.

Justin Williams “Second time around”

I already wrote my extensive thoughts on Williams’ play and role going into the season. That was at a time when I believed he would be playing next to Anze Kopitar.  Since then, it has been revealed that he will in fact be skating next to Jarret Stoll.

With this in mind, I only have a few more words to add.

I like it.

Though Williams is not in the typical mold of a playmaker, when you consider the fast skating, fast checking and shoot-first-ask-questions-later game that Stoll plays, a playmaker is exactly what Williams’ can and should be for Jarret.  Look for Williams to break Stoll loose from the bluelines with 4-6 foot passes.  Expect Stoll to stand in the low slot waiting for Williams to find a seem from the corners.  Hope that Justin doesn’t slip on a banana peel and fall down a well.

The Unit “I think I can, I think I can”

This is a fairly new look for the Kings’ in the top six.  Stoll and Parse played together a fair bit last season with Dustin Brown on the right.  Stoll and Williams played together as well… on the 4th line trying to skate out of the doghouse.

On paper, the three should mesh well.  Williams with his wily veteran’s game and positional fortitude, Parse with his rookie eagerness, accurate shot and stick handling ability, and Stoll with his blistering slap shot and strong checking make up the groundwork of a solid scoring trio.  Still, this line is far from a sure thing.  Can Williams produce without a Kopitar or a Staal as his center?  Can Parse bring it every night?  Will Stoll ever hit the net?

Will I ever finish these season previews?

At least one of those questions can be answered with a resounding, “Hell yeah!”



Categories: L.A. Kings News

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2 replies

  1. Hey there seat-neighbor.

    I think there is a lot to like about the second line. Although, I suspect Brown and Williams will consistently trade places throughout the season- in consideration of the team match-ups.

    Do you think Schenn has a place on the team? Maybe he makes Stoll expendable? Do you think left wing is a possibility for Schenn? If Parse can’t handle the duties, maybe push Poni to 2nd line with Schenn on the 3rd line- then an inevitable switch if Schenn can handle his own? I know Schenn’s a center, but with a left shot he may be able to handle it. Maybe Clifford- or maybe he is destined to find his place on the 4th line.

    Man-O-Live I am so excited about the seasons start!

    • Ernest!

      Hope to see you Thursday puck brother. If not Thursday, then 41 other times!

      As for Schenn, I do. I think he is the 4th line center. I’m not huge on Lewis. The one standing in Schenn’s way is Richardson. With Parse on the 2nd line, the 4th line center position is Richardson’s for the taking. The only other spot he can fill, until/unless Parse falters, is the 4th line left wing (its a myth that Richie plays all 3 positions, he does not play right wing).

      Still, I think Schenn makes the team, at least for 9 games. Schenn can also play left wing, so I think Murray does some shuffling between he and Richardson. Westgarth and Clune will be extra players, dressing against goony teams. Clifford, I think, eventually makes it to the 2nd line, but not for another year or two. I think he is groomed to replace Poni next year. For now, I do think Clifford is on the team this year as the 4th line LW most nights.

      Its almost impossible to predict the 4th line right now.

      I think that we will see every combination of the following players on the 4th line throughout the season:

      Clifford/Richardson/Schenn/Clune-Richardson/Schenn/Lewis/Cliche-Moller/Westgarth/Cliche

      I also think Nolan gets a look there at some point in the season, and don’t count out Czarnick to make the team out of camp. He is playing VERY well from what I have so thus far. BIG body, talented and willing to hit and get hit.

      But there you go and ruining some of the surprise of the 4th line season preview article :)

      As for Schenn getting bumped to the 2nd or 3rd lines, its possible, but I think he has to prove himself to be solid on the 4th line for AT LEAST half the season (barring injuries) before being considered for any sort of promotion. If Parse falters, Richardson is first in line to take the 2nd line LW spot.

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