THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME: BLUES BEAT KINGS 3-1

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

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8 replies

  1. Funny, I wrote this about TM on the insider earlier tonight, and I think we’re of the same mind.

    “The more teams clamp down, the more he stresses to play the right way (which is basically play his system better). He doesn’t seem interested in adjusting the system during games to counter what other teams do, but to address their play with more of his system”.

    The frustration I feel when I read comments that blame players for doing what their told is absolutely maddening. You’ve done a great job of explaining what I couldn’t. My main problem has been that, although I understand what’s happening, I’ve never been able to put it into words so that others could understand where I’m coming from.

    Great job.

  2. If what you say is true, it would be best to let him go now so we can salvage the season.

  3. I think I may have found a positive in this whole situation. I don’t believe there is any way we could lose every game for the rest of the season……….is there?

  4. It’s happened before, right before or after the All-Star break, coaching change turned the whole season around, and…..Oh, I lost myself with hope, but , these are the Kings!!!
    Even the Islanders,Devils,Oilers & Flames won’t lose every game….
    If we tank….let it be known, we have a deep draft this year, no Crosby,Stamkos or Ovechkin in this one…Could we accually become sellers this season?????

  5. This is depressing, really. Some of us have seen this for quite some time now, but I was really hoping I/we was wrong and were missing something. Something behind the scenes we weren’t aware of. But I’m afraid TM is being exposed more and more each day.

    Well written Scribe. Exact on all points.

    Now what?

  6. Real good point here.. We are totally predictable.. when a fan like myself
    sees the same thing over and over you can be sure that the professioal players/team/coaches
    can see as well.. I have also been following the Rangers this season.. they are a grit team vs.
    a speed team.. so I see the similarities to the Kings. But they are Not predictable.. the change it up.. very workmanlike.. Torts does change a couple of the lines ..a bit.. but still keeps 2 of the 4 lines in tact.. he may at the end of the game have certain palyers out together depending on
    the score.. to protect the lead..or to try to generate a goal.. I see us do that with the Defence ..ie JJ and Doughty.. Wrong!! … maybe on a PP.. but even that has fallen flat lately..
    D Men have to work in tandem.. communicate .. can’t develop chemisty if constantly rotated..
    Watching the game from home last night Miller and Fox both expressed dissapointment.. and they usually try to find a positive to talk about.. I especially liked the Live show with Fox breaking down the plays he did last night.. he was right on..
    sad times being a fan right now..
    GO KINGS GO!!!

  7. The coaching staff sucks and all from what I can see but why is it that a couple of guys out there are playing hard and making a difference while the rest are invisible or close to it. The players on the ice need to stop being predictable themselves fuck the coaching staff. They need to find it within themselves. This may only happen after a major shakeup as it often does but so be it.

    • I agree. The players have to take ownership. It’s their house. I keep seeing “Protect This House” on the goofy castle doors they walk through at the game’s commencement. I don’t feel protected. We are getting exposed.

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