If I yell at a deaf man, tell a blind one to open his eyes or question why a dead one is just laying there, I’m the dummy.
Getting upset at Terry Murray carries a similar futility. He is exactly who he is.
I heard Nick and Daryl defend him today but, even more, defend coaches in general and place the onus without exception on the players. I wish someone had asked them how it is the Penguins won the Cup after firing their coach (when they were out of a playoff spot at the time) if coaching was not the problem or how the St. Louis Blues this season can look like a completely different team after Davis Payne’s firing. There are so many examples over so many years. How does Phoenix, with a fraction of the talent, keep winning? How does Nashville remain competitive? How did the Lightning do it last season? How can Pittsburgh be so good when missing Crosby and Malkin over such long periods of time? Would the L.A. Kings be the same now without Kopitar and Richards? All coincidence? Coaches matter and they matter more than Nick and Daryl led on, as do the system and culture they create.
I wish someone had asked them whether they see much similarity in how the Detroit Red Wings, San Jose Sharks, Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins and the other “elite” teams in the league enter the zone or set up the play 5 on 5 compared to us, because you and I know, there isn’t much.
But that is exactly why I am setting forth a personal moratorium on Terry Murray.
This only applies to me, not you and certainly not Surly. He is hell-bent out of shape over tonight’s game and I don’t blame him. Bottom line for me is this: Dean Lombardi doesn’t have the courage to fire Terry Murray because it would be an admission of a second coaching mistake during his tenure and, absent a collapse, he will not be able to justify it. As such, Terry Murray stays and, for that reason, there is no sense in me pounding away at the factual representations of his system’s failure.
The Blackhawks beat us tonight 2-1.
We are moving forward.
We are going to focus on the players and the plays.
For the rest of this article, forgive me, because my mind is in a few different places at once and this may come across disarranged.
As I see it at this moment, my desire (since the preseason) for a Gagne-Richards-Williams line will come. I am sure of it. It’s a logical combination of players who have history, built-in chemistry and complementary styles. It is, for my purposes, our first line even if they are labeled the second.
As for the second first (hope that didn’t lose you), Anze Kopitar needs a left wing and a right wing. Dustin Penner, absent a player makeover, is not it. We have a hole at left wing. Dustin Brown is just not playing like a smart hockey player right now but he at least has history with Anze Kopitar and there is value there. He will be right wing. Andrei Loktionov had a below average game tonight and when young, skilled players have one bad game under the current regime, they are doomed (different rules apply to no talent, pylon, grinding veterans). Unless Lokti follows it up with a big one, I am not sure now that he sticks when Dustin Penner is set to return. I hope I am wrong. As such, Kopitar may see different wings on the left side. Stoll? Doubt it. Clifford. Perhaps. Hunter? Probably.
I don’t have a realistic (Read: one that I expect would ever really happen) solution to the bottom 6 from a player’s perspective because what I want will never be. Clifford-Loktionov-Kozun is a pipe dream – mine. For all the talk about wanting three scoring lines, it is just “talk.” This team will not get away from a top 6, checking line, energy line (in other words, “old school”) mentality. Don’t buy any of the crap that the Kings are trying to build three scoring lines in the literal sense. It’s not happening, again, under the current regime.
The fourth line won’t change because there is nothing there with which to change it. Richardson, Lewis, Moreau, Westgarth, etc. will all be cast and miscast in various roles.
We then get to Drew Doughty. I am so disappointed in Drew Doughty. I see number 8 out there and I miss him. I miss the “smart” player, the “composed” one, the “mature” one with the puck, the one that made “good” decisions defensively and wasn’t a liability, the one that you could count on during any part of the game, whether up, down or tied, the first minute or the last 30 seconds. The camp excuse, by his own admission, is not it. What is? I don’t know but I have $7 million undeserved guesses.
Jack Johnson is better but he needs to be even better than that. I do wish Jack released the puck faster. He has a hard wrist shot that, unlike the slapper, has a very high accuracy rate. More of that from the point, especially low shots, would create rebounds and, what we are sorely missing, second and third chances.
Slava Voynov is just a wonderful NHL defenseman and a pleasure to watch. He has it all – speed, smarts, a physical edge (not overpowering but enough to separate the man from the puck) and a cannon of a shot. He is also right handed…and Jack Johnson is left handed. Catch my drift? That failed Doughty-Johnson experiment (which wasn’t much of one in terms of time) had merit in its intentions. It’s time for Johnson and Voynov to become a pair. Put Doughty with Mitchell and Greene with Scuderi except against certain teams, I would bring in Alec Martinez in Greene’s stead…don’t hold your breath on this one though. It may be far too outside the box, even though it is a very tiny box.
As for Quick and Bernier, we have covered this. Jonathan needs a lot more starts…my feeble attempt at comedy.
Finally, Dean Lombardi has a choice to make. If he believes the players are not performing, then he can do nothing, preach patience and see if it all works out (which could be his job if the Kings fail to make the playoffs) or he can make the trade that will bring in depth scoring (for all the talk about Zach Parise, you know that is with tongue firmly planted in cheek). Depth scoring will cost us one of our young defensemen and nobody wants Thomas Hickey unless he comes with a 1st round pick. There is a lot of risk there – you are talking about taking a top 6 forward from a bad team (translated as that player being a 3rd line forward on a good team) or taking a veteran and established scorer from a team looking to dump salary or go into rebuilding, which will cost about the same depending on the contract left for said veteran.
Interesting options, eh?
There is a lot of danger in Dean Lombardi putting the offensive woes squarely on the players and then making changes consistent therewith…the biggest one being giving away valuable young assets and then learning after the fact, he was wrong and it wasn’t the players after all.
Late Post Script: For a brutal but quasi sadistically funny post game filled with GIF-Vision, check out The Royal Half’s Faces of Defeat.