Is this team over coached? Badly coached? Are the players caught in a system where Terry Murray stifles any potential creativity with a predictable cycle that is impotent in the face of neutral zone pressure and a defensive focus on the boards and point men?
I will give you an example of many. It happened tonight yet again…more than once. It has happened just about each and every game and often multiple times for the past month. You read. You decide.
Throughout the game, but especially in the second period, St. Louis double teamed our players that didn’t have the puck in the offensive zone. Why? Because they know what I know and what anyone who has scouted the Kings knows – where the puck will end up. 9 times out of 10, the pass went exactly to the double coverage along the boards. If you are not watching the game away from the puck, you don’t notice this. All you see is a King player double teamed and you respond with, “what the hell! We got beat to the puck again!” You think we are not moving our feet or are moving too slow. No. Murray’s system only has a couple of set plays when the puck has “stopped” (Murray’s words in describing his system) after a dump in and/or cycle and those set plays have been scouted and neutralized.
Want another one that is specific from tonight’s game? The Blues took away the neutral zone all night by standing up 4 players at and above the blue line. This caused the Kings in their present system to only dump the puck in on the strong side. What was the Kings’ response to this? Keep dumping the puck in on the strong side. No adjustment.
To call it a lack of creativity is being kind.
A coach that is unable to adapt and cannot see this very basic foundational problem within his own structure is failing at his position. A coach who constantly juggles the forward line combinations when much of the problem is defense has no answers. A coach that does not allow any chemistry to form between players and randomly takes out forwards (read: Richardson, Ponikarovsky) and places useless and ineffective pylons in the game (read: Westgarth) has no concept of how to help his own team.
When Terry Murray was hired, I wrote the following:
“Terry Murray is a poor choice for a variety of reasons.
I remember the 97 playoffs very well. I was very “up” for that Philly v. Detroit series and I wanted Philly to win it. I loved that Philly team.
Most of you know that Terry Murray was the head coach of the Flyers. He had a history that season and the seasons prior with having problems with the players. He is not a yeller like Crawford but the friction was there. Then, in the finals, after game one when Hextall (yes, our Hextall for you younger fans) didn’t have a great game, Terry puts in Snow for game 2. Some of us were just plain stunned. Looked like a total panic move. You take out your anchor, your clear number 1 and put in Snow? In the finals…mind you, the irony that he is being hired as coach of the Kings with Hextall holding his current position is not lost on me…small world as they say…So, the Flyers don’t do much better and then he makes the infamous “choking” comment. Some of you may remember this. If you do not, look it up as I am sure it is still on the web and you can find an article on it. He essentially said his players are choking. That pissed off a few players. Lindros immediately comes to mind and there were others. So, the Flyers are swept and Murray is fired. He then goes to the Panthers and is fired after I believe a couple of seasons. Same thing. Problems with the players. Then again, you could argue the Panthers were a mess at that time. I couldn’t remember what happened after that so I looked it up and saw he was also passed up by the Hawks. Hiring a coach who is older, has a history of problems with players (especially star ones), hasn’t managed to land a head coaching job for 8 years and been passed up by other teams concerns me.”
I am telling you right now. Something is wrong in that locker room. This team doesn’t look like a team. They see what we see, a coach insistent on a structure that has been scouted and rendered impotent. A coach who cannot adapt or make any adjustments to the play. If insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, then Murray and this team is fit for a loony bin.
Coaching isn’t the only issue. Doughty is a shadow of himself. Hesitant, weak along the boards (he showed the strength of a 13-year-old girl on that second goal) but I wonder if the other problems I see exist if Murray could stop with the line changes and make adjustments to the team’s breakout plays, neutral zone and defensive zone coverage and this absurdly predictable cycle. We know that hockey is a game of momentum. We also know once you lose the momentum, you only gain it back by outworking the opponent in the key aspects of the game. Speed through that neutral zone, puck possession and time with the puck in the offensive zone. Shots on goal, traffic and rebounds. You could make a case that the Kings failed in every aspect of this tonight. But why? Is it because they are forced into a structure that essentially places the Blues one stride ahead of them at all times? Yes. It’s really that simple. I refuse to believe that 23 players have gone full-blown stupid overnight and are suddenly unable to execute. The Kings are doing exactly what they have been doing all season. The difference is the other teams now also have the script and when the opposition focuses on neutralizing our cycle, we have no answers. Bluntly, at this point, I just hope we run into opponents who are not well coached and who do not have us figured out. If we are looking for wins, it may be our best shot.
Categories: L.A. Kings News