Surly and/or I will write about the game tomorrow. There are too many thoughts swimming in my head to do it now. Rest brings calm. Calm brings focus. Focus filters anger.
But, tonight’s game helped me track and answer a few questions that I have been asking since the injuries to Mitchell and Poni.
Question: Why does Kopitar suddenly look lost in the offensive zone?
Answer: Because he has no one to pass to. This is so simple but it didn’t hit me until tonight as I watched him closely. We often mistake Anze for a sniper. We do this because he has a terrific shot. He isn’t a sniper. Kopitar is a young Joe Thornton in progress. He is at his best when he has someone to dish the pass to and who is looking to score. He simply is not and will not be the high end and elite goal scorer despite the fans’ attempts to wish him into that. This bluntly has been an issue I have watched for two seasons. This makes a sniper on his left wing even more important. No disrespect to Dustin Brown, but a sniper he is not. A combination of Kopitar, left wing sniper and power forward Brown would be lethal but it currently does not exist and the Kings have nobody to put there. Thus, Kopitar has nobody to give the puck. That player doesn’t exist within the organization.
Question: What happened to the second line?
Answer: Teams figured out that Jarret Stoll is the key to the second line. In the past 7 games, the opposing team’s defenses seem to treat Stoll’s line as the first line and are putting pressure on him from the moment he touches the puck. This neutralizes his ability to make the plays he made earlier in the season. This line lives and dies by speed through the neutral zone and Jarret’s ability to pass the puck to Williams. How do you fix this problem? Get Kopitar a left wing. What? That’s right. If you want to see the second line’s magic, you get the first line going because right now the first’s demise has trickled down to the second as defenses only have one line to stop. This should only make you question further what in the hell Murray was thinking with Dwight King.
Question: That is Drew Doughty out there, right?
Answer: No. It isn’t. It’s an out of shape, less confident defenseman who despite all the natural skill in the world has decided not to elevate his game. You are seeing a sophomore slump in a junior year. He is still physical because he is genetically very strong. But, get him skating and you see where the fitness comes into play. He is at his weakest right now when faced with speed from opposing forwards. He is at his strongest along the boards and down low.
Question: What is Terry Murray searching for with the line changes?
Answer: This answer may surprise you. It’s also very simple. Ready? He has no idea. The line changes are mini-panics. Imagine hyperventilating for a few seconds until it passes. Murray has nobody to put as a first line left wing so he is going to try everything and everyone there until it at least can produce some offense. The problem is we actually know something Terry is refusing to admit. Again, that player doesn’t exist within the organization. You want to know what Terry Murray is going to do next? This is almost a guarantee. He will put Smyth-Kopitar-Williams back together. It may happen in two parts, with Smyth or Williams going up for a game or two and then the other following but it will happen. Want to know what else he will do? Nothing. Line shuffling is all he has right now.
More to come…