L.A. Kings Lose Fifth Straight. Sharks Win 4-2.

Kids? They’re not kids. This is a veteran team.

Not enough talent? Anze Kopitar, Justin Williams, Simon Gagne, Mike Richards, Dustin Brown, Dustin Penner, Jarret Stoll, Drew Doughty, and Jack Johnson should be able to score more than 2 goals per game.

Coaching? Coaching.

Terry Murray can talk himself around it. He can avoid it. You can refuse to accept it.

Murray must go & soon.

He must be fired and we have in our history of this site never written those words before tonight, but it’s time.

No matter the increase in talent, Terry Murray has failed in 50% of his responsibilities. He cannot coach a competent offense. He does not possess the acumen for a system that will score the goals necessary to win on a consistent basis. He will always be what he was from the first day he came here – incomplete – and what he will remain – the wrong coach for a team that intends to compete for the Stanley Cup. Do you realize how talented our LA Kings actually are?

Here are some numbers that we are now tracking game to game.

The Sharks had 38 shots on goal.

The Kings had 31 shots on goal.

Here is the Scoring Chance Zone (SCZ) again:

(Scoring Chance Zone)

In the first period, the Kings had 8 shots within the SCZ while the Sharks had 3. A good period. 1 was on the line and did not count. In the second period, the Kings had 2 within the SCZ – an awful period. The Sharks had 13 shots within the SCZ. Wow. They had two additional ones I didn’t count right on the line. In the third period, the Kings had 6 shots within the SCZ. The Sharks also had 6.

The total numbers were the Sharks 22 and the Kings 16. Basically, after the first period, the Kings went right into Terry Murray offense mode and the shot locations show it. That second period was murder.

Did Terry Murray make any adjustments? No. Maybe Murray is waiting for Lombardi to get him 6 Anze Kopitars before the team can generate more than 2 goals per game on a consistent basis. He may be waiting for a while…hopefully out of this organization.

I will leave you with this quote from San Jose coach, Todd McLellan courtesy of MayorsManor (from his twitter account, which is not linked here):

coach on changes made between 1st and 2nd period – “We adjusted the forecheck…we let LA come out of their zone too easy in 1st “

Adjustment. Imagine that. Terry Murray wouldn’t understand.

Categories: L.A. Kings News

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25 replies

  1. Just want to point out, when I reacted poorly to the signing of Ethan Moreau, this is what I was talking about. The Kings have the personnel to be a three line team, or at least a 2 2/3 line team. Stoll is a very good third liner, as is Brad Richardson.

    Ive always felt that you need 2 players to make a quality line. San Jose was a great example of this last year. When Pavelski was “alone” on the 3rd line with only grinders, even he couldn’t make the line good. He struggled. Then they signed Kyle Wellwood, and it was a 100% reversal. Mitchell was just average on their wing, but they had 2 of 3 and it made the line.

    It’s the same with the Kings. Ethan Moreau, while I love his physical edge (it’s especially apparent now that NO OTHER KING IS HITTING!), he’s a shit player. I mean his defense might be fine, but who gives, whose isn’t. Maybe a good defensive forward on the 3rd line would be valuable to the Kings if they didnt have options who are good at offense and defense. The Kings can’t score right now, and having one of your prominent lines completely inept offensively is a big part of that. If Richardson plays on the 3rd line with Stoll, you’ve made the line. You have your 2/3, even if Clifford sucks right now he’s not bad enough to ruin the line.

    But instead, because Ethan Moreau has been signed, even though he sucks, Terry Murray is playing him over Brad Richardson just because he’s Ethan Moreau, and a veteran. Does Terry Murray have no memory? Even if you were going to play Ethan Moreau over Brad Richardson every other game of the year, this was the game when you don’t. Who was possibly the Kings best player vs the Sharks last postseason? Brad Richardson. And what line did he play on? Line 3.

    Anyway this is what I was worried about. Yes, it’s partly Terry Murray’s incompetence, but it’s also that Ethan Moreau sucks. Brad Richardson is clearly better and that’s one thing, but even in that instance you could still justify Moreau’s signing as a fourth liner, Terry Murray allowing. But as sexy as his physical edge is, and how you like having players like that, Andrei Loktionov is probably the better player, and he certainly brings you more offense. Think about it, most fourth lines are all AHL calibre grinders. Not only is Loktionov a good player, but he would be one of the few skill 4th liners in the league. That means when he matches up against other 4th lines, its a huge mismatch for them. When you’re struggling for offense, it’s creative stuff like that you need to be looking at.

    The Sharks outskated the Kings badly tonight, and there are things Terry Murray should have tried to combat this. Besides being the better player overall than Moreau, Richardson is also faster, more agile. 15 minutes of Richardson ice time changes the dynamic of the game, really changes the Kings team. Likewise, 8-10 minutes of Loktionov on the 4th adds that element too.

    Disappointed with Murray’s game management, disappointed with the team overall, disappointed that the Sharks just look like a better team, no matter who the Kings coach is. Ill talk about that in the next comment.

    • I’m not sure what you mean by playing Moreau over Richardson. Richardson hasn’t been scratched this season and tonight Richardson centered Moreau and Lewis. Richardson has spent most all of the season on the third lens with Stoll and it’s been Moreau moving up and down the lines.

      I understand not liking Moreau, but your reasoning doesn’t follow to me. Am I reading it wrong?

      • No Surly you’re not reading it wrong. I mean I didnt mean playing him in games over Richardson, I meant playing him on a higher line. Its possible I saw wrong but before the game I heard that Richardson was on the fourth line and Moreau on the third, and thats what I thought I saw multiple times. Maybe not? If so then I just wasted a lot of words.

        • Really???? Blaming the car crash last night on Moreau????

          How about Mr. Mega Bucks Doughty….such a wonderful player that we have to suffer through the stupid signing drama….for that much money I want him to win the entire game EVERY night….and I mean every night. He should be getting so many goals every game that it is off the charts…oh wait he’s not.

        • You are wrong and right. Before the game Murray had Moreau on the third and Richardson on the 4th but wen the Puck dropped they were both on the 4th and Clifford was on the third.

  2. Here’s the really concerning part. What if the Kings are just overrated as hell?

    Think about it. Why are the Kings supposed to be better this year? Why did everyone predict that? Mike Richards, the elite, top line, point-per-game, 30 goal, selke candidate, top player in the entire world Mike Richards.

    Except he’s not any of those things except the selke candidate. He has above average speed, has great edge control and balance on his skates (good skating in general), and he’s very clever, makes lots of little clever plays much like Justin Williams except even better, and he’s a very good passer.

    But he has no power. He’s so undersized. He’s not a goal scorer. His acceleration is sometimes suspect, he’s not in the best game shape. Needs to work on power skating and all-around strength. He’s just, how to say this, not a dominant player, at all. He’s one of those guys that does all the little things really well and is so clever that he’s going to put up 60 points and make some nice assists, but when you’re talking about players who can take over a game, start controlling the puck, who cycle so well because theyre so strong that you cant knock them off the puck, who start getting 5 shots in a period because you cant stop them barreling down on your goal, he’s not it, at all. This is a very good second line center, but he’s not a 1st line center, he’s not an all-star, he’s not an elite offensive forward. And that’s what the Kings thought they were getting, and it’s what they needed. They needed someone as good or better than Kopitar at either wing or center. They need another star. Richards is a star in that he has a big name, but he’s not on par with even Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Joe Thornton, Anze Kopitar. Even guys like Jamie Benn are better than him now. Hes just not enough.

    And the point I was making is this. People thought Mike Richards was so good, it almost didnt matter what the Kings lost in the offseason. Wayne Simmonds? Just a decent third line grinder. Ryan Smythe? Overpaid, slow, aging, useless forward. Michal Handzus? Dont even need him with Richards now, and Stoll is way better than him.

    All of it, wrong. How great each of these players is or isn’t, together on the Kings they were greater than the sum of their parts. They were the Kings identity along with guys like Kopitar. What I mean is, cycling. These were three of the Kings best cyclers, best players at protecting the puck and keeping it down low. Let’s remember that Terry Murray’s whole system is based around that, dumping the puck in and getting on the cycle. That was the Kings biggest strength along with their defense, and certainly the catalyst for all their scoring. They were one of the biggest teams in the league, and one of the best cycling teams.

    Not anymore. Their whole identity is gone! Those great cyclers have been replaced by Mike Richards and Simon Gagne, who are both undersized. The Kings seemed to have four lines last season that could all overpower you physically, there just seemed to be a mammoth or two on every line. Now it’s just Kopitar and Penner, and everyone else is average to small on the top two lines. This is a completely different team now, and im not sure the tradeoff was for the better. Richards is good but not dominant as the Kings need him to be, Gagne has declined so much he sucks now, and Ryan Smythe has outplayed them both in Edmonton so far, Wayne Simmonds was integral to the third line which now sucks without him, and is Jarret Stoll really better than Handzus? I know who’s getting paid way more, and way more than he’s worth, Jarret Stoll. Handzus is way bigger, stronger, stronger on the puck, and he has better hands as well. That puck possession/protection ability is what the Kings really need right now. Losing Handzus, especially to the Sharks, was such a huge mistake. It baffles me how Dean Lombardi could be that stupid.

    I hate to say it, but this team might not even be as good as last year. Oh and let’s not forget, the only reason people ever thought this Kings team was starting to get good in the first place was Drew Doughty’s great second season. So it stands to reason now that he’s fucking awful, the Kings aren’t going to be very good. They need Drew Doughty to be the best defenseman in the NHL, at least top five, but right now he’s looking more like Dion Phaneuf the last couple seasons. People thought he was a prodigy his first couple seasons–because he was, but then he got a big contract and starting sucking. Doughty declined last season but was still a good top pairing defenseman. Right now hes jsut a mess. And what really pisses me off is that every time he plays his “friend” Logan Couture, Couture schools him. Couture is going to make less than 3 million next season. Doughty is supposed to be the star, the generational talent, the all-star, and Logan Couture should not be doing fist pumps after scoring goals every time he plays Doughty.

    Speaking of stars, how many star forwards do the Kings have? Anze Kopitar, and hell we’ll count Mike Richards. That’s two. San Jose has Thornton, Marleau, Pavelski, Havlat, Couture… that’s six. Throw out say Pavelski and Clowe you still have 4. Throw out Couture too it’s still, clear cut, the Sharks have an extra elite forward, and that’s a big difference. Maybe the Kings were never as close as we thought they were. I mean they still have Justin Williams and Dustin Penner on their 1st line. Good players but neither are top line players. That tells us all we need to know. The team isnt going to score much when their top 6 is so weak. Yes, they have depth through the top 6, but not enough elite talent. Even Kopitar is more a playmaker than goalscorer. They dont have one single elite goalscorer, San Jose is swimming in them.

    Vancouver has the Sedins and Kesler, three elite forwards, and super elite at that at least the Sedins.

    Blackhawks have Kane, Toews, Hossa, Sharp, that’s four to the Kings two. DOUBLED! Any mystery who’s going to be the better team in a playoff series barring a miraculous Quick series?

    Red Wings have Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Franzen.

    Ducks have Getzlaf, Perry, Ryan, Selanne, that’s four to the Kings two.

    Even Dallas, Eriksson, Benn, Ribeiro, Morrow, Ryder, not all stars but its a better top 6 overall than the Kings.

    Penguins have Malkin, Crosby, Staal, Neal is turning into an elite goalscorer. Capitals have Ovechkin, Backstrom, Semin.

    I think it’s pretty evident looking at the other top teams in the league, the Kings are missing at least Datsyuk/Sedin/Ovechkin/Toews quality player, if not two. Good luck finding that, Dean. Seems this team is just going to be pretenders for a long time. And with the ridiculous Doughty contract and bad contracts to guys like Stoll and Greene, Dean dosent even have the cap space to add players like that even if he could find one. Discouraging. I think we got carried away with this team because they played such a great structured game under Murray at times last year, we forgot to look at the depth chart and realize that however smart a game they play, they’re still a team thats realllllly lacking top end talent up front. Marleau, Pavelski, Clowe, and Couture ALL have absolutely elite shots for the Sharks, Im talking top 20-30 shots in the NHL and the Sharks have four of them, and honestly the Kings have none. Kopitar has a long stick and sort of an awkward sling shot release and its just not an elite shot. Neither is William’s. Really, no one. Thats another huge problem.

    What else can I say? This team is overrated. Richards is not good enough by himself to singlehandedly make up for the loss of the THREE key players, not just key but key to Terry Murray’s system. Those players were like 3/4 of the heart of how the Kings like to play, Kopitar being the fourth, and its just a huge loss. You cant be a cycle team without good cyclers. This team needs big upgrades and Lombardi already made his move, and his bed, with the Richards deal.

  3. At least *one Datsyuk/Sedin/….

  4. My whole comment just deleted, but what I was trying to say is, can you guys start writing about how Matt Greene needs to be traded? He is terrible. Kings fans have him on a pedestal because he shows he cares in postgame interviews, and hes a supposed leader, but having your worst player on a pedestal and making him untouchable no matter how badly he plays because he’s a “leader” is plain stupid. Loyalty gets you killed in this game when its to terrible players.

    Green’s speed is terrible. His acceleration is terrible. His skating all around is terrible. Even Douglas Murray closed down Doughty tonight and showed that once he gets that freight train going, he can at least move a little. But Green is a pylon. There is a reason defenders this slow have been phased out of the game since the lockout, they suck. Green sucks. Hes not even a pylon with good reads. His decision making is terrible. His vision is terrible. His positioning is below average. His first passes are terrible. Every time he gets the puck its like theres a grenade on his stick. On offense, every time he gets the puck he basically kills the attack because he cant shoot or pass or do anything. Hes the Kings worst player, the only thing he can do is hit, and thats not nearly enough.

    Like I said, loyalty kills you in this situation, just like Greene’s contract. The sad part is, thats what it is. Imagine if Greene didnt have a contract going into this season. Imagine he was the exact same player as now, except no one had heard of him, and he was trying out for the Kings. He wouldn’t have made the team! If his name wasn’t Matt Greene, if management wasn’t already attached to him, he would never actually make the team as a nobody now because hes not good enough. His play is not good enough. The only thing keeping him on this team, likely even the league, is that he is “Matt Greene, leader.” You should never put a player’s name over his play on the ice. I dont care if Greene is the best leader in the world, nothing positive he could possibly be doing off the ice could make up for his play on the ice. That’s where the game is played, on the ice, and he’s terrible there. He has to go. It’s time for a reality check here by Kings fans, get the man off the pedestal, start campaigning for him to be traded waived or bought out. Hopefully blogs like yours will spread the good word as its whats best for the Kings.

    • … Wow. Where do I begin with this? I’ll just say you’ve written two excellent posts, and I agree with most of what you’ve said.

      If Richardson plays on the 3rd line with Stoll, you’ve made the line. You have your 2/3, even if Clifford sucks right now he’s not bad enough to ruin the line.

      … 100% agree; this needs to happen. With Richardson and Stoll on the same line, you have two beasts on the draw (Stoll’s at 56%, Richardson at an amazing 77%) which enables Stoll to anticipate/”cheat” on the draws, which is his tactic, and even if he gets kicked out of the circle the Kings have a good faceoff man ready to step in.

      Richardson’s most effective when he’s left to roam, get in on the forecheck, be aggressive … with Stoll’s natural tendency to slide back into the F-3, he’s a perfect compliment to Brad. Clifford, in my view, is suffering from confidence issues. Give him some real time to skate a third line shift at evens all game, maybe a PP shift here and there, get him on the scoreboard; get the monkey off his back. Once he starts believing in himself again, the Clifford we know and love will return. I have no idea why Murray wouldn’t take a chance on finding out if what he saw in the playoffs from Kyle last season was something he could really build on or not. It’s baffling.

      But instead, because Ethan Moreau has been signed, even though he sucks, Terry Murray is playing him over Brad Richardson just because he’s Ethan Moreau, and a veteran.

      … Well, technically Richardon’s averaging a minute more of ice time per game than Moreau, but I absolutely know what you’re saying. Moreau’s getting the minutes of a third/fourth line tweener, when he shouldn’t be anywhere near the third line on his best day, and shouldn’t be even starting on his normal days.

      Andrei Loktionov is probably the better player, and he certainly brings you more offense. Think about it, most fourth lines are all AHL calibre grinders. Not only is Loktionov a good player, but he would be one of the few skill 4th liners in the league. That means when he matches up against other 4th lines, its a huge mismatch for them. When you’re struggling for offense, it’s creative stuff like that you need to be looking at.

      … Again, completely agree with this. Loktionov not being up with the big club, gaining NHL experience, is a crime. There’s no substitute for actually being in there battling, and he’s missing out on it. Regardless of what line he’s on, he’s out there and putting in his shifts – and if someone goes down on the upper lines, or if Murray wants to sit a guy down for being ineffective, that’s where Andrei can be plugged in. Again, it’s unbelievable to be that he’s not in L.A.

      Think about it. Why are the Kings supposed to be better this year? Why did everyone predict that? Mike Richards, the elite, top line, point-per-game, 30 goal, selke candidate, top player in the entire world Mike Richards. Except he’s not any of those things except the selke candidate.

      … Holy shit, wow. I couldn’t have said it better. And I totally agree that the top six on this team, while solid in its own way, is not at all in the dominant class offensively. This team still needs to have a defensive base if they are going to succeed in the league this season. I thought the Kings were about fourth or fifth-best in the West when the season started, and they still can get back to that level, but they’re going to have to play a sharp two-way game to get there – otherwise they’re going to remain one of those teams on the fringes of the playoff race, squeaking in on a wing and a prayer – especially if they lose their luck in the shootouts (which is precisely what seems to be happening).

      I’ll agree to disagree with you on Doughty, although I see your point and can’t really argue it based on what we’ve seen so far this season. I do think he was far better than what he got credit for last season, and that he’ll come around in time in this season. As for Greene, I disagree here as well; I think he’s been more than adequate as a third pairing and PK guy and as a matter of fact, I think he’s playing about as well and as effectively as he’s ever played. He plays about 16-17 minutes a game, and that’s alright with me. The pair which is killing the team right now is the Johnson/Scuderi one, and that’s because Jack really can’t play defense at all and Scuderi can’t do the work of two. If I’m running the Kings, Voynov needs to be back up, immediately, and the Kings need to see if Johnson can be moved to another role or another team. Otherwise, in this system, Jack’s headed for another -20 (or worse) season.

  5. So along the Moreau lines, why are we playing him so much over Hunter? I don’t know a whole lot about these two guys but aren’t they supposed to fill basically the same roll except Hunter is much better at it? I get the sense that it has something to do with Murray wanting him to be a secondary scoring power forward rather than just accepting him for the grinder he actually is.

    • I get the sense that it has something to do with Murray wanting him to be a secondary scoring power forward rather than just accepting him for the grinder he actually is.

      … And you would be correct. Terry Murray ACTUALLY SAID this shit about Trent Hunter:

      the one reason why we talked about him and signed him over the offseason was his scoring ability

      … which makes me wonder what in the World he and Lombardi are using to evaluate players. Are they using a Hockey Scouting Report from five or six years ago? Say, wasn’t Lombardi a scout five or six years ago, when Hunter was actually a good player? Things that make you go “hmmmm.”

      If Hunter or Moreau absolutely have to play, it should be one or the other, and whoever does get to play should be a winger on the fourth line, putting in about seven or eight minutes per game. That the Kings are relying on these dumpster dives to give them double-digit minutes says a lot about the depth, or lack thereof, of this squad.

      • It doesn’t say so much about the depth, but rather about our unwillingness to utilize our talented farm system. Moreau and Hunter are great guys to have playing behind Kozun and Loktionov and such, Just not such far in front of them.

        As for Hunter, he definitely isn’t the player he once was, but if you watched training camp you’d see why We signed him. He still has a hell of a good shot.

  6. Fire Murray +
    Bring up Voynov =

    Los Angeles Kings Stanley Cup

  7. The total numbers were the Sharks 22 and the Kings 16.

    … But, of the number of shots the Sharks had in your designated zone, how many were on the PP?

    Did you realize that in 5-on-5 situations, the Kings and Sharks were equal in shots (21-21) for the game? Perhaps the Sharks had one or two more shots from your zone than the Kings did while both teams were at even strength. That’s to be expected from a superior team playing at home, isn’t it?

    That second period was murder.

    … It sure was. The Kings took four penalties in the second period, and the Sharks took 15 shots on goal while on the resulting power plays. How is that an indictment of Terry Murray not making adjustments offensively? What’s he supposed to do in that situation?

    The Kings won 12 out of 18 faceoffs while they were shorthanded, and still gave up 17 shots in their 10 1/2 minutes of shorthanded play. How in the World does THAT happen? Terrible defense in those situations; that’s how. Is that on Murray? Again, what can he do? With the exception of Jack Johnson, Murray threw out some solid defenders on the PK time and again. The Kings have had a helluva PK before last night’s game. How was he or anyone else to know they would be terrible? I’m sure Murray would have loved to have someone tell him before the game “Psst … hey, Terry. Your previously rock solid PK is going to turn to shit tonight; just a heads-up, buddy.” Hindsight’s 20/20, my friend.

    As I said in the other thread – while I watched the Kings completely stink the joint out while on the PK, while I watched them deflate after Thornton’s goal (before they had even fallen behind, no less) – I felt for a second or two that they were actively campaigning to get their head coach fired. I have no idea if that’s actually the case, of course, but the fact of the matter is that the Kings are playing undisciplined, sloppy, ineffective hockey on both ends of the ice. This run of losing isn’t just as a result of a failure to attack enough. It’s been a period of poor defense at critical times, too. So – what’s the real issue, here? Are they not as good as they thought they were? Or are they not as professional as they thought they were? Either way, these are TEAM losses; not Terry Murray’s losses, or Dustin Penner’s losses, or (insert scapegoat here)’s losses. This is on everyone. And if it doesn’t change soon, the Kings’ margin for error for the rest of the season will get smaller and smaller.

  8. Pride. Passion. Pathetic.

    It’s frustrating to watch the games. I live north of Dallas now and it’s awkward to drive around in my Kings-decorated car and sit at my Kings decorated desk knowing the friggin’ Stars with the loss of Brad Richards, no huge names, a new NHL coach, a shockingly horrible attendance turnout are way better than the Kings (even though two of the Stars’ losses were to the Kings).

    During this losing streak, I haven’t seen much more than a single period per game of actual competitive playing from L.A. They’re being out-passed, out-skated and out-managed.

    I still hold faith that the Kings will be able to turn it around because last season they went through losing streaks bigger than five games:

    11/15/2010 to 11/29/2010 – Record of 1-7-0
    12/29/2010 to 01/20/2011 – Record of 2-10-0

    And of course they finished the season on a losing streak with the loss of Kopitar and carried it into the playoffs which of course we succumbed to the Sharks.

    I’ll say one thing, so many opposing teams’ fans are so quick to chant “Beat L.A.” and that bugs me to no end. And last night the SJ crowd was no different. For those who go to Kings home games, perhaps the fans can start a “Beat S.J.” chant next time the Sharks come down? Just a suggestion.

    By the way, when I used to live in NorCal and attended live Sharks games, I ALWAYS thought it was stupid to do the Jaws opening and closing gesture while they play the movie’s theme before a power play. Glad to see some dumb traditions haven’t changed up there. It’s worse than the Atlanta Braves’ tomahawk chop.

  9. R.J. Umberger

    Better player than Penner over the last 4 seasons

    Phily connection

    1 goal so far this season, and the team needs to make the move


    Would you ????

  10. Blake Wheeler

    Straight up for Penner

  11. Kyle Okposo

    Penner + Martinez ( Bring up Voynov )

    Josh Bailey

    Penner + Lewis ( Bring up Cliche or Lokti )

  12. Chris Stewart

    Penner + Hickey or 3rd

  13. Kostitsyn ( Only because there are Montreal rumors and he’s UFA )

    Penner + Drewiske

  14. If they blow the game tonight it has to be time for DEAN to pull the trigger!

  15. I understand teams go on losing streaks. Look at Boston’s start as well as San Jose and even Detroit but I really don’t want to be playing the last 2 weeks of the regular season hoping and praying we can squeeze in again.

    Something has to change and it needs to be the coach but it seems to me if they fire TM the most likely candidate is John Stevens and is his philosophy and system going to be much different than what we already have?

    Unlike other replies I read here I think Richards is a top notch center and needs a better system to thrive. I also think a new ‘something’ will help Penner as well.

    DL needs to decide where his loyalty is. If he sticks with TM and this crap keeps going like it is then we can start to expect a lot of really great ticket deals for Staples just to try to fill seats because no one wants to spend hard earned cash and 3 hours watching a big pile of dog shit!

  16. You see, all of you?

    I said there’d be better times to get suicidal.

    And it’s still weeks before Thanksgiving.

    Ahhhhh, me! I’se regusted!

  17. Hey J.T,

    Really appreciate your posts. I typically find whenever I write anything negative about anyones beloved team or player I get a negative reaction. Not only did you agree on a lot of it but even the stuff you didnt agree on you respected my opinion and could see where I was coming from. Really appreciate it. Wish more people could have discussions about hockey like this instead of bias arguments.

    On Trent Hunter, okay, maybe I can shed some light on this. My #1 thing with hockey is player evaluation. Im always about a billion % better than the average NHL GM on being able to tell who to pick in the draft. They draft so many obvious busts and skip better players so often.. Im trying to learn the tactics of team play and understand why one system works in one game and not another, and things from a team perspective like that, but thats not my forte. Im getting better but that wasnt something I naturally noticed. Player evaluation, though, from the moment I started watching hockey it was natural to me.

    Trent Hunter was not really a player I was that familiar with. I watch mostly western conference and I didnt know how much he had left in the tank. Then I watched in him in preseason, and like Lombardi and Murray apparently, I liked what I saw because he can move pretty well, hes got a good frame, better than average hands, he can protect the puck better than average. He looked like a better than average 3rd liner who could chip in here and there on offense.

    Thats what I saw right off the bat, and thats probably what they saw. The problem is thats not the final analysis. You get that from five minutes of watching him, the problem is youre still missing the other half of the coin. Hows his hockey sense? Vision? He has more physical talent than the average 3rd liner so maybe that will lead to a few more opportunities, but can he finish them? Is he good at playing a structured game (ties into the hockey sense).

    And from what Ive seen, those are the areas the big problems have come in. Im not sure hes taken enough shots yet (or maybe I just havent paid well enough attention) for me to give the verdict on the shot, but the other areas have certainly been problematic. Call Hunter, I dont know, Dainus Zubrus-super-lite. Zubrus is big with a great frame, hands, the whole package, and never seems to make much of it. Hunter is not nearly as skilled as Zubrus thus the superlite, but maybe thats a decent analogy. Hunter has no imagination in his game, he doesnt seem to know where to go with the puck or where to go himself.

    So I think thats the problem. You see someone who physically looks like a pretty good 3rd liner and you expect that out of him, but you and your scouts dont do their due diligence, dont pay attention to the other things. Hockey sense is huge now. A couple years ago, if youre Alex Ovechkin and you can just blaze by everyone down the left wing scoring the same way over and over again, maybe hockey sense isnt as big a deal. Now Ovechkin cant do that anymore because defenses have adjusted, everything is tighter checking, and you need hockey sense to create that space and create offense because your physical gifts arent going to do it by themselves anymore unless youre one of the most skilled players in the league. Hunter’s hockey sense hasnt been good and without that he wont be a good player.


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