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…


Categories: L.A. Kings News

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6 replies

  1. Wow this is pretty scathing, but I suspect is very accurate on all accounts…

  2. We’re a quarter of the way into the season — Doughty should have played himself into something better resembling shape, There’s more to it than the physical aspect. What, I don’t know.

    This is my 1st year of actually paying attention to the structure of the game, so forgive me if this (or any other commentary I offer ) is utterly asinine…

    But, doesn’t it seem that there are too many attempts to start the breakout from the defensive line with a cross ice bass between the blue lines (more specifically between our blue line and the red line.) An opposing forward is often sitting right there and when the pass is off a bit the transition back to D catches us short. Nobody is carrying the puck forward. I understand the concept of changing the point of attack. But we’ve become absurdly predictable.

    The offensive scheme seems to be morphing into a poorly structured “dump and chase” rather than specific placements and solid forechecking scheme.


    • Your observations are fairly accurate. As to both issues, realize that Murray’s playbook is a small one. Terry’s “structure” focuses on stopping the puck to begin the cycle in the offensive zone and short passes on the breakout in the defensive zone. Discussing the structure of the Kings’ defense is beyond this comment but the point is the players have limited options. I actually find this ok for a young team. The walk before you run mentality. In addition, on a team with a depth of talent, it works just fine when it is well executed – it’s the “our guys are better than your guys and that is why we win”. Lose your best breakout guy in Mitchell and the system’s weaknesses are exposed. Lose a guy like Poni and the shut down, stop the puck and cycle of one of your lines disappears. You may be thinking, “so, adapt, play to your player’s strength, give Jack and Drew the green light to use their speed through the neutral zone” etc. Therein lies the rub. Terry Murray is not an “adapt” type of coach. For example, despite having the last change, we were stuck numerous times with our 4th line against their 1st. Why? Because Murray refused to recognize what Chicago was doing – keeping their lines out there longer to, in effect, get the last change. Terry had no response. He has a set play book and that is all he plays. Conservative, low risk and in a game last night and as we have seen for 2 weeks, ineffective against opposing teams who are able to adjust to our predictable game.

      • If what in fact you say is true (particularly the second to the last sentence), well then, TM is not the type of coach to lead a team to championship play…

  3. Its frustrating that we’re close in most of the games that we’ve lost. We haven’t been blown out. So I guess that’s a good thing and a bad thing. Depends on how you look at it.

  4. Random thought on TM:

    When I lived in Chicago (many years ago before I learned NYC had better culture and food and did a stint there which was before I learned that L.A. has better weather and incredible street food and moved here…) I lived next to one of the coaches involved in Northwestern University’s football renaissance. I spent a lot of time watching a piss poor team turn into an underdog team into a Rose Bowl season. One of the things we talked about as neighbors was the impact of coaches.

    When a team is not performing at expectations (either poorly or beyond them) the coaching at half-time makes a HUGE difference. Well coached teams that should be winning but aren’t make adjustments that work and mount comebacks. Teams that are winning because of a few freak plays and lucky bounces fail to consider this and play like they earned the lead — only to get slaughtered in the 2nd half. In a nutshell good coaches have the ability to change outcomes when they get 20 minutes with their squad.

    Solid skills are great but without ability to adapt… In the end, “smart and moderately talented” can usually beat “talented but clueless”.

    Perhaps we should be commenting on Brown’s leadership? (Maybe not, I just don’t know.)

    Somebody needs to step up and lead this team. If not the schedule in the spring (10 games on the road to start Feb.; only a pair of 2 day breaks in Mar.) will be nightmarish. We play 10 of 13 games at home in December; the time is now.


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