The L.A. Kings Have Lost The Identity For Which Terry Murray Cries

A subtle thing happened when Michal Handzus, Ryan Smyth, Alexei Ponikarovsky and Wayne Simmonds left and Mike Richards & Simon Gagne arrived. The L.A. Kings lost their identity and failed to forge the new & necessary one.

Last season, what were the Kings? A team that primarily dumped the puck and cycled. Smyth sustained offensive zone pressure behind the net. Zeus, Poni and Simmer helped maintain it along the boards. The low to high attack was the primary weapon. Size ruled the day. The Kings used the above four players to keep the puck in the zone. It wasn’t pretty but it’s all we had, primarily because that was Terry Murray’s offense and what he knew to implement.

This season, we lost three big bodies plus Ryan Smyth and didn’t replace them. Instead, we got heart and soul player, Mike Richards who, while a complete package, doesn’t come with mass. Neither does Simon Gagne. If Dean expected Ethan Moreau and Trent Hunter to replace Zeus, Smyth, Ponikarovsky and/or Simmonds, then he badly miscalculated.

Were adjustments made to the L.A. Kings’ offense with the loss of size and net gain of speed and skill? Terry Murray claims yes. I see no or, better stated, not nearly enough. Now, we are trying to execute the same low to high without a sustained cycle. It doesn’t work. We lost too much size to play last season’s offense and the forecheck isn’t aggressive enough (despite Terry Murray’s claims to the contrary) to compensate.

So, is there anyone to blame?

First, there must have been a disconnect in communication between the coaching staff and management. If Dean Lombardi didn’t see this problem coming, he was shortsighted. You just can’t add “skill” to a system that doesn’t play to it, but instead emphasizes size, and expect things will improve, unless a new forecheck and offensive zone attack is implemented therewith. If Lombardi believed Terry Murray would make the necessary adjustments, then he was either naive or took his eye off the puck – the one that dumps the puck, sends one man to retrieve and then loses it. The last point adds one question to those I have for Dean Lombardi: “do you believe Terry Murray will coach an up tempo offense that emphasizes skill over dot to boards play?” That is another one those who hold and cling onto press passes as well as L.A. Kings employee Rich Hammond won’t ask…perhaps Helene will.


Dean Lombardi now has a choice – (a) trade for the players to bring in the size so Terry Murray has the form to accompany the function at the sacrifice of our skilled players, (b) hope Terry Murray will evolve or (c) replace Murray with a coach that can give the team an identity in the offensive zone that is consistent with its skill set.

If he is not certain, perhaps I can help him make the choice – “Dean, what would Detroit, Chicago, Vancouver, and San Jose look like if they played Terry Murray’s offense?” The answer is, a lot like the L.A. Kings.

December 12 update: File this under “great minds think alike”. A Sharks’ blogger published this same premise (with differences of opinion on a few important issues) before me and there is cross over between our respective thoughts. Here is the link to Sharks Circle. My article was an evolution of one I started back in October and finished when Lisa Dillman on December 8 wrote about the Kings’ identity crisis. Thanks to the boys at Sharks Circle (may your team burn in a watery hell) for sending the link to me.

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42 replies

  1. amen scribe. im for option C… although im not quite sure who exactly i would want to come in and replace him.

    we do have great offensive talent here and our defensive game has developed into one of the better in the league.

    get us an offensive minded coach dean!!!

  2. I think the Kings need to replace TM and JK they both not doing good and JK has no excuse and so does TM….

    But maybe some people are right maybe not them thats the problem ..

  3. It’s not like the Murray’s offense worked with those “big” bodies. 25th in offense isn’t something to aspire too.

    Murray was saved by Kopitar’s injury last year. He should have been fired after his second 1 and done. Kings strength is supposed to be defense and they failed in the playoffs for the second straight year on defense.

    Offense has sucked for 4 years, so nothing new there.

    • It did work, as well as it could. It has gotten worse for the above reasons.

    • Offense has been nothing but offending since 2002! 4 years is being nice about it. This problem goes way past Murray. This is an organizational problem. We suck and that sucks. Our captain, known for demolishing fools has pummeled only a handful this year. He showed up to play on LW and excelled but was put back to RW despite the marked increase in production.

      Cliffy, the guy people like Billy Jaffe and others on the NHL Network and hockey were calling a monster last year has dropped the gloves only a handful this year and we’re 1/3 of the way into the season.

      I have no idea what happened to Richie, Stoll and Williams but I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that it’s a little difficult to gain chemistry with your line mates when you don’t really have line mates and more over, don’t know who the fuck you’re playing with until the day of the game.

      At least Pens is over his injuries and showing some life. Still not upset he cost me a beer in a bet to Bobby because he’s picked up his game as of late. BTW: If you want that same bet tonight, Bobby, hit me up. 13 min of ice time, except if he scores, you have to tweet your unabashed man crush for him.

      Hunter on the first line made me want to vomit. Message sent, TM but no one was listening worth a shit.

      Quick getting the boot after his 3 straight shutouts…yeah, not happy about that. NOT pulling Quick after letting 3 soft ones in with about 10 to go in the third against the Wild…yep, not happy about that either.

      The thing that really pisses me off is how n

      • I don’t bet with people who don’t finish their sentences

      • Not one single person on the ice did shit while Kopi was flattened the other night. WHAT – THE – FUCK?! Talk about sending a message to the rest of the league. Anisimov taunts a goalie and his team wanted blood, one guy even leaving the bench to get a piece of him. Kopi gets mashed and not one King did a damn thing about it. I was yelling at the top of my lungs at the TV, like it was the TV’s fault! Again, WTF?!

        I had a free seat to tonight’s game courtesy of the firefighters who are playing the alumni as I type this but said fuck that, there’s no way I’m going to drive to the Stapes to watch them get their asses handed to them by a team like Dallas. Call me fair weathered all you want. I’ve been a King since 1990 and I’m not lying to myself about what it’s going to take to turn this around.

        The worst part about all of it is that DL won’t do a damn thing, is going to let TM ride out a year of mediocrity and we won’t be able to feel that same excitement we all felt at the beginning of the year until next season when the Kings start with a new coach. Until then, I’m not really looking forward to watching our boys get shitstomped every time they get on the ice. I’m fucking over it!

        Now, having said all that, I’ll be watching with the same intent and passion for this team that we’ve all had over the past however long and tweeting up a storm as well. Fuck!…the life of a Kings fan, huh?

        • Not one single person on the ice did shit while Kopi was flattened the other night. WHAT – THE – FUCK?!

          … What did you want the team to do? Does every hit have to carry this backlash emo drama after it? Kopitar didn’t miss any time. He seemed to be alright after the hit. There doesn’t appear to be any lingering injury.

          Everyone on the team mentioned that they wanted a goal for Kopitar on the resulting PP. THAT’s how I want the team to respond. Not by taking a silly penalty, not with a staged fight – by doing something to hurt the other team in a tangible way.

          • Yes, when our star player gets knocked into the boards like that, I expect the team to respond with some form of ass whoopin’ for anybody in the vicinity, especially when getting outplayed as badly as they were. There’s nothing ‘staged’ about sticking up for your star when you see him lying on the ice like he was. That’s called getting your boy’s back. That’s called teamwork. That’s called brotherhood. I’m small as shit but would have been in there getting my face bashed in just for the sake of saying, “Hey Fuckheads, that kind of shit doesn’t fly in my house!”. The reprocessing of not doing it are far greater than your star forward sitting out a couple games or taking a penalty when you’re down 3-1. You’re effectively sending a message to Kopi and the rest of the league that you can run our guys (even though the hit was clean IMO) and we’re not going to do anything about it. Want to know what our identity as a team is around the league, that’s a small clue as to the overall perception other players have of the Kings. Bunch of pussy ass fucks who won’t even fight when you lump up their stars. That’s not all you they think, I’m sure but it’s a factor.

          • That and it was a pretty clean hit…

          • Clean hit, yes but the psychological impact something like that on a team is enormous.

            I was in a scrap with a guy who was the same size as McSorley and even looked like him. My buddy, who was playing in net comes skating up behind the guy to get my back. Yes, I would have had my ass handed to me if weren’t for him being there but I’ll be damned if “McSorley” didn’t watch his ass the rest of the game. It has a HUGE impact. After that, we were able to do pretty much whatever we wanted because they knew we weren’t going to back down to anything.

            Same thing in the Army. You get your boys’ backs, always, no questions. It’s just something you do for your brothers. You want to talk about pride and passion and identity? The Kings are so far removed from what it all means right now, little things like getting in a tilt for your star aren’t even considered. Fundamental shit has gone out the window and these guys are NOT doing shit peewee hockey players know how to do. You don’t need to have ever played the game to know they’re a mismanaged uninspired clusterfuck right now. It’s being advertised loudly every time they take to the ice.

  4. Many teams seem to play well, despite not being that big. Speed and skill are todays NHL. Look at Gionta/St Louis/Gerbe/Parise/Plekanec/Kane/Datsyuk.

    The Kings have size, however the overall speed of the forwards, needs to be complemented.

    What if they give Kozun a few looks in the NHL? He has speed, skill, and is pretty good at avoiding being neutralized by the average size of most NHL teams.

    If they would bring him up, not bury him on the 3rd line, lets see what he can do.

    Who is JK?

  5. A subtle thing happened when Michal Handzus, Ryan Smyth, Alexei Ponikarovsky and Wayne Simmonds left and Mike Richards & Simon Gagne arrived. The L.A. Kings lost their identity and failed to forge the new & necessary one.

    … This is one of the main reasons why I didn’t feel the Kings had become Cup contenders during the past offseason despite all of the claims from fans and “experts” to the contrary.

    Forging an identity doesn’t happen overnight.

    • No but a third of a season is a pretty good amount of time to do so. What do you think of The Panthers and Wild right now? They have identities and their squads are relatively new to one another in one way or another.

      • What do you think of The Panthers and Wild right now?

        … On December 10th of last year, the Stars were leading the Pacific Division. How did they end up?

        The Sharks were 9th in the West, the Ducks 10th. How did they end up?

        Where teams are after 30 games don’t concern me. Where they are after 82 concerns me.

  6. Waaaaaay to much blame placed on Murray when it should be at the very least evenly shared with management.

    All we ever hear from Lombardi is about the defensive aspect, how he is concerned with the offense but we can’t risk one iota of defense to try and improve it, god forbid we try scoring 3-4 goals if it means we may give up 3-4 goals. Look at tonights goal totals from the winning teams…

    Montreal 2
    Rangers 4
    Vancouver 4
    Philadelphia 5
    Pittsburgh 6
    Detroit 7
    Minnesota 4
    Nashville 3 (in 3rd)
    St. Louis 1 (in 3rd)

    Not a lot of teams winning games scoring 2 or fewer goals.

    It’s painfully obvious the Kings need more than a coaching change, we need a shift in the way that we look at playing and winning hockey games, coaching certainly is part of that, but we also need to build a roster with more speed and skill and shift to a style where the team isn’t trying to win every game 1-0 or 2-1 or 3-2 in a shootout. There are going to be certain nights, especially against good playoff caliber teams where either the goaltender is going to be off, or we may take a few penalties or there may be a bad bounce and like that, you have given up 3-4 goals in the game, we need a team that is capable of scoring 4-5 goals in games like that. I am not saying every game will be like this, but at the point the Kings are under so much pressure to keep opponents at 2 or fewer points because at this point any time we give up 3 goals in a game we are going to lose, because our style from management down to coaching isn’t built to score more than that in a game.

    • Mike, to paraphrase Pierre McGuire during the nhl broadcasts…. ‘you get it’. Left you a reply on the game thread but I’ll paste in a bit of it here.

      Dean Always builds from the back on out. The guys on nhl home ice were talking about it this last week.
      Well, guess what. The team plays good d. That’s fine. In the meantime, we’re five years into this thing and he STILL HASN’T FOUND ANYONE TO PLAY WITH KOPITAR! Whose responsibility is that?
      And to think he inherited Kopitar.

      Brian Burke meanwhile in less than three years managed to make bold moves and build from scratch a first line thats getting big time results.

      Fine to concentrate on d, but when you only draft dmen and forwards with intangibles who are hard to play against…. or late round smurfs hoping that one of them will function, this can happen.

      So, thats what I wrote. Seems you and I are on the same page. Like most of us, I’ve been a huge supporter of DL, but he doesn’t get off clean here. How many dmen do you need in a system. Loads evidently. It’s also been proven that you can get a good dman thru free agency (see Scuderi, Mitchell) more so than grabbing a pure goal scorer. Plus, the way they’re playing, what pure goal scorer wants to come to LA?
      Then he can magically transform from a 43 goal man to a 26 goal scorer perhaps?

      Dean has to take some a lot of the responsibility for this. If TM doesn’t ‘get it’ then while all the natives are calling for his head, one has to considered that he was hired for this job by Dean Lombardi.

      • And one more comment regarding ways to find a pure goal scorer. Based on the evidence available, DL miscalculated badly on that one.

        So we have all of these assets. He used two (Teubert and a first round pick) to get Penner. I can’t imagine regardless of what Penner does that they’ll resign him. He’ll be UFA and carries too much baggage and question marks. Meanwhile there are probably other teams out there that would offer him more than DL would anyway.
        Point being, proof that it isn’t so easy to use your assets to get a sniper.

        And of course the points made above about getting a free agent goal scorer.

        I had a big issue with DT in that the only forward he drafted who scored more than 20 goals was Fro. That is until right before he was fired…. then they got Brown (I’d sure as hell hope so…. if you didn’t get Something out of that 2003 draft with three first round picks, you’re in trouble).

        Well guess what. Going into the sixth year for DL. To his credit he drafted Schenn, so that converts to Mike Richards. Very good. But clearly either his forwards are terribly challenged offensively, or the system and coaching is far worse than one can even imagine.

        • DL lost a season due to a combination of Kovalchuk and a lack of available needed talent in the offseason.

          He overpaid for Penner but if things chance Penner may play a big role this season.

          We also see why teams should not sign contracts based upon potential. Potentil

  7. I love this blog!!
    Isn’t Hammond employed by the Kings organization! Yes their yes man. This entire organization has put a lot of work into making sure harsh criticism is avoided. It occurs to me that the organization believes critical/negative reviews will drive their fan base away. Painful being a Kings fan.

  8. Losing Smyth and Simmonds was huge. Add to that losing Poni and we’re left with passive, skilled players. Our roster is not built for the cycling, crash the net game. Murray should just open up the offense and play a shinny type game. What’s the worst that could happen? We get a medium to high 1st rounder? We’re headed that way anyways. Loosen the reigns Murray, that’s all you got left.

  9. I’m in fucking agony.

    And I gotta look at theses Goddamn dots?!?

    • We couldn’t score in a cathouse with a thousand-dollar bill stapled to our dicks.


      Make it go away. Please.

  10. Maybe it’s just me but Brown is really starting to get on my fucking nerves?!? The guy seems like he’s TM little puppet and regurgitates everything he says.

  11. Poeple overlook the system changes made this year, to which the Kings are still struggling to adapt.

    My take on Murray is that he originally built a game plan/system to suit the talent level he had. As Bobby says, when he had lunks with hands of stone, he forged a defensive style that was able to overachieve. Making the playoffs two years ago was an overachievement, maybe last year, too; Murray has never had 6 legit top-6 players until this year.

    Now, he has built changes into the system, and while the cacophony of criticism is deafening it is also based on incomplete information. The changes so many are asking for, to add creativity, to open up the game, etc., these things are being tried but so far the players are still working it out.

    Last year the breakout was D-to-D to establish possession and gain space and time. The center would swoop from below the goal line to generate speed, and take a short pass from the D, carry it across the blue-line into center. The wingers were supposed to be matching his speed to either take a break-in pass or to retrieve a dump-in. The D were supposed to trail, set up at the blue line once entry was made, and rarely pinched at all below the high halfwall. The “safety-valve” for our breakout when under pressure from a forecheck was a stationary winger on the high halfwall, usually on the weak side, and he would take a ringaround or short pass and then he would pass it off to the swopping center and follow the play out into center. Rarely, very rarely, would our D lead a rush, and if he did, a forward was expected to trail the play.

    This would put only one forechecker deep, and he would need to stop the puck so the second forward would have time to join the scrum. There was always an f3 high usually the center, and for him to go deep there would have to be an interchange of position. This attack would naturally favor the low cycle, and possession would usually evolve (or devolve) into “heavy board play”. Possession time with size, away from our net, wear down the opponent’s D, etc., as Bobby describes.

    This year, it is very different. Now, the mandate is “quick ups” to a forward. Get the puck to a forward as fast as possible, and leave the zone. When that forward feels pressure, he is supposed to beat the first guy and then make a pass. No longer is it almost exclusively the center with possession leaving our zone. If he can, the puck-carrier is supposed to maintain possession or make a short pass to the weak-side forward for entry, then it is attack through center if possible but make sure to get possession deep. This is the possession attack, and fans should expect this more from Kopi and Lokti/Richards lines, less from Stoll and Fraser lines, as “checking” lines should be more conservative.

    Often, the forward making the pass in center drops it or back-passes it to an on-rushing D. The forwards are to carry on, the farthest forward (who is by now ahead of the play) can then skate laterally across the opposing blue line hopefully into an open weak side to accept an entry pass or be at speed to retreive a dump-in. The center and strong side forward can either take an entry pass or be at speed to retrieve a dump-in. If the possession carry is not there, then this provides three forwards available to go for retrieval, two at a time. The D follows into the zone much earlier and goes to the point corner, establishing a “hold-in” presence and defining the zone posture. The trailing D covers from middle ice to his point corner, covering against a counteratrtack thru middle at first, and then reinforcing the hold-in by being available for ringarounds. As well, this year I see our D more aggressively pinching, lower and more often, although I would like to see it even more but only when safe. (Our guys need to read where the opponents are positioned, not just base a pinch on where our own forward is and whehter he is positioned for an immediate interchange)

    The Kings are having problems establishing this style. The forwards are supposed to move quickly to get out of the zone, but if there is pressure on the D that delays a pass, then a gap is too big for cohesive exit and you get these aparantly aimless passes and turnovers. If the first forward can’t beat the first man, or beats one man but then runs into early pressure before the red line, he is pre-disposed to make a weak dumpin or ice the puck, as rushed passes in center-ice are dangerous. If the D is not quick for a drop pass, he simply skates into the same pressure that forced the drop pass in the first place. Decisions at the blue line of whether to dump it or carry it are often not gelling with the forwards placings; sometimes it should be a cross corner dump but isn’t, and vice versa. Sometimes the dump is late, and the racing forwards have had to stall at the blue line to stay on-side.

    These are system changes designed to allow for more creativity on carry-in, add a fourth potential attacker on the rush, and commit to zone-possession by pinching earlier and more aggressively later in the play. These are coaching changes allowed by having more skill in the lineup. This is the supposed dinosaur Terry Murray actually encouraging his players THROUGH DESIGN to be more varied in their attack and entry. When it doesn’t work, it looks like a monkey fucking a football.

    As far as what happens in the zone, where Bobby talks about outnumbering on forecheck, no cross-seam passes, weak shots for the sake of shots, these are, for me, not coaching rules being followed but players still developing an offensive vocabulary. No, I can’t use the “youth card” too much here, but does anyone think these guys are done learning? Murray is encouraging the idea of creativity, and frankly all the players need to do is watch guys like Datsyuk or Crosby, Thornton or a Sedin, and match their style to someone who plays a similar game to pick up new skills. My point is, that except for the forecheck situation which is based on a clear read but has been stated specifically to have been loosened up re f2 and f3, the lack of offensive punch once the team has possession is due to guys just not being in the habit of generating loose pucks in the crease with guys already there to knock in some garbage.
    They aren’t confident enough in recognizing possession as the time to move thru the box without the puck for an attack pass, and instead stay outside to be available for a possession pass.

    If the Kings get used to the timing of a revised group of entry plays, they will have better chances of generating dangerous shots on goal. More solid “possession confidence” will allow guys to commit to scoring plays, where now they are really spending their time fighting for the puck. The Kings need to recognize that they don’t need to be fully open with a clear lane to get a pass/shot thru; they just need to slip it past people in tight places, get guys leaning a little and use that as an opening between their stick and feet, etc. Players seem like they don’t think there is time to go to the net and park it there cuz the puck will be lost. Guys don’t do the simple shot on net with a teammate passing in front of the goalie, even. It is frustrating, but that is not system, it’s confidence, and it’s vocabulary. I doubt whether Murray is on the bench telling people to stay away from the net. It’s a matter of degree, it’s a matter of integrating some new things and some old things and toss in some developing things with a dash of superman complex to make it happen.

    I wish the Kings would have a “chance mentality” and not a shot mentality.
    I wish the Kings would just know their guy with the puck is going to get it to the net, and they would go there looking for puck scrambles and loose pucks in the crease. Do that enough and the pretty plays will come naturally as the opposition is forced into, and conditioned into, the collapsed shell. I wish the Kings would shoot thru legs more and into legs less. I wish Scuderi would do something other than push it back down the boards into netback battles. I wish Lokti would score a freaking goal or make a nice pass that a guy could finish. I wish Clifford would up his game, he is chasing. And I really wish Drew Doughty would stop looking like the village idiot skating around with a simpleton’s grin and play like he was worth just 4 million, keep the other three.

    All I want for Christmas is the Kings to settle into the new system and let it happen. And it wouldn’t hurt if a few guys would play to their pay, and it also wouldn’t hurt if Murray could get his 500th already and start thinking about 600.

    • I really enjoy your posts. It’s fun talking puck with you and we should have a beer sometime and talk about breakouts and regroups but do you not see that the low to high (stretching the defense) is still the go-to offensive zone play? That the players, by default (which means the great majority of the time), get the puck along the half boards and then F1 to D1 to D2 for the point shot even though they have lateral passing seams and/or time to hold the puck and skate with it? That is what I see. I do notice the breakouts are different. The forecheck? It’s the same garbage. F2 plays back, F3 plays D – if I am reading your post correctly and you think the forecheck has gotten aggressive, you and I are watching a different game. I focus on the forecheck every game now. The F2 going behind the net and then hanging back doesn’t work unless you outnumber the opposing team along the boards. That is why so many of our dump ins turn into the opposing team’s break outs. We don’t send F1 and F2 in with the F3 as support…like, never. It is maddening and I cannot believe that Murray is demanding otherwise. If I believed that, I would then have to conclude the players have tuned him out and refuse to forecheck night in and night out? That is crazy.

      Regarding shot vs. chance mentality, that is coaching. Murray’s primary offense is garbage goals. He wants pucks fired at the net from everywhere (he has said as much – no “cute” passes) and players crashing. Well, you can’t base an offense on that. What is the D going to do? Anticipate that the middle of the ice, the scoring zone, will go untouched, pressure your point shooters high, pressure your forwards at the dots and the Kings, like robots, make no adjustments.

      If you ever want to write some guest articles here, let me know. You are welcome to do it. Your statements deserve their own forum. I like your differing opinion and insight.

    • Great post Player-X.

      Much of what you say speaks to an irony I thought of last week…. That Murray is more successful at coaching offense when he doesn’t really try. When offense is an afterthought of defense, like last year, the players managed to score some goals. Now that Murray has made offense a focus, he and the players are totally failing.

      Murray is so bad at devising an offense that ignoring it all together works better.

      I know in everything you state the issue of execution and confidence is of prime concern. I agree. However this is again, a coaching issue. It is a coaches job to design and instill a system. It is their job to get the players to practice it in a way tha allows them to execute it at a high level consistently. It is the coaches job to instill confidence in his team.

      Murray has only done one of these things and that is a major failure on his part. We don’t have a group of shlubs. These Guys all know how to buy into a system and play wit confidence. They have all, to a man, done these things before and succeeded. It is only now, with Murray guiding these changes, that the wigs are falling off. We often like to say that Murray tries to fit round players into square holes. Well perhaps in a fit of deserving but devastating payback, Murray is a round defensive coach being forced by management into a square offensive coach hole. He simply isn’t cut out for designing and implementing a system that relies on creativity.

      You mention little passes in tight spaces. Well shit man, that is Justin Williams bread and butter and yet, Williams has never looked worse or more lost. You say these kinds of plays, plays that Williams and Gagne built their careers on executing well, are needed for the system to work. Yet we stil have Murray bemoan these exact plays, the “cute” plays thy aggravate him so much. So either you aren’t seeing his new system properly or there is a disconnect in Murray’s own head on what his own damn system needs in order to be effective. My money is on the latter.

      For these reasons and oh so many more, Terry Murray is no longer the right person to coach this team.

  12. First off, thanks for the compliments, high praise from a respected source, it means a lot to me. Thank you. I may submit some guest articles in the future, but I need to be inspired and if not the words don’t flow, but again, thank you for that invitation.

    “…the low to high (stretching the defense) is still the go-to offensive zone play? That the players, by default (which means the great majority of the time), get the puck along the half boards and then F1 to D1 to D2 for the point shot even though they have lateral passing seams and/or time to hold the puck and skate with it? ”

    I agree that is what happens often, but I propose that it is not under instruction from Murray that this happens. I would grant that the players are habituated by Murray into such things, but that Murray was required to use such things when he had the lesser-skilled lineup. Now that the lineup should be able to create more lateral, etc., they are still adding it in. I agree that they should be able to do it, but I doubt whether they are forbidden to do it. It makes me crazy when they come out of the corner, like a Danny Briere play, but then don’t even face the net or think shot at all.

    “…The forecheck? It’s the same garbage. F2 plays back, F3 plays D”

    It does happen as you describe often, agreed most often, but let’s break it down further. The Kings are not a team with 4 equal lines, as Fox was referring to Minnesota when he said, “They come at you the same way all 4 lines”. So the Kings have the offensive 2 lines in Kopi and Lokti/Richards, a hybrid in Stoll, and a checking/energy in Fraser. Kopi and Lokti, I want them to carry it in, and they try to do just that. Kopi more than Lokti, this is an area of growth for Lokti. So, those lines do try to carry it in, but this breakout arrhythmia can not only screw up the carry but can doom the dump-ins, too, and a bad dump-in leads to bad sync on the forecheck.
    For the scoring lines, it is supposed to be a retrieval dump-in. If f2 sees f1 arriving late, he can’t really commit, he has to peel off and cover the breakout. If there is a good dump-in, f2 can join a 2 on 2. Most scrums nowadays end up 2 on 2, with the other 3 defenders triangled on same side of the ice. It gets really congested. So our f3 could either join in and make it more crowded, which is not good for us anyway, or he can hang back a little and try to get his stick open for a shot, or he can try to reach and poke it free to our guys’ advantage. A full 3 on 3 scrum is not good for us, it is just too crowded anyway, and a 3 on 2 is gonna be rare since the defending team is already going to be closer to the puck by default. I think the idea of the retrieval dumpin is to have first man pressure and immediately create a loose puck, and our f2 comes in and grabs it for a pass or ringaround, to spread the play. They used to want to “stop the puck” on the forecheck, now I don’t think it is that way anymore, I think they want to interrupt the puck but then get it and keep it moving.
    For the hybrid and checking lines, the dump-in is to at least spend time in the attacking zone. We want to get in there and disrupt the opponents top lines ice time, make them defend, keep them hemmed in. A 3 on 3 scrum is good in that situation, but risky, and a 2 on 2 accomplishes much the same thing with less risk. It is natural for the non-scoring lines to be a little more conservative with the forecheck, so it looks half-hearted, but that is a fine degree based on specific reads of the play. Also, speed is required, and since we were carrying Moreau, Hunter and Westgarth, and 2 of 3 would play each game, the speed needed for the 2 on 2 to develop was missing and a good, stop-the-puck forecheck depended on an ideal dump-in.
    So, I think some dump-ins/forecheck happen from bad carries, some are good play made on purpose. It just isn’t fair to expect the non-scorers to play the same tactics as the other lines, and then also the start of the play in the breakout affects the scoring lines’ efficiency in all areas including the forecheck after a dump-in.

    “Regarding shot vs. chance mentality, that is coaching. Murray’s primary offense is garbage goals. He wants pucks fired at the net from everywhere (he has said as much – no “cute” passes) and players crashing. Well, you can’t base an offense on that. What is the D going to do? Anticipate that the middle of the ice, the scoring zone, will go untouched, pressure your point shooters high, pressure your forwards at the dots and the Kings, like robots, make no adjustments.”

    For me, in the words of Frank Zappa, this is the crux of the biscuit. No doubt we are defended against as you describe; we are an easy game plan against. My feeling is that Murray is talking about over-passing and not just passing, means cute as in soft as in perimeter play, and that he wants our guys to just get the fucking thing to the goalie’s feet and be there to hammer it in. I truly believe that if the Kings did that more, it would open up the passing plays, the lateral passes to one-timers, etc. I agree the result is weak shots so far, but the Kings need to incorporate the entry into a syncronized attack leading to well-timed shots at a net with people around it. I do not agree that Murray is against sound startegy like this; I am beginning to question the teaching ability.

    • “It makes me crazy when they come out of the corner, like a Danny Briere play, but then don’t even face the net or think shot at all.”

      If you knew how many times I have muttered an expletive under my breath (I have kids around my seats) when this has happened. 5-10 times per game, at times. The game against the Wild, I yelled, “why the hell are they playing keep away from the net!” and then realized the wife and kid weren’t with me and I was talking to myself.

      So, you see what I see (for the most part) but you think it is the players as much as coaching? I am struggling with this. I don’t blame the dog but the bastard that conditioned them to drool ;)

      Comment more.

  13. I’m creaming over a line of richards-smyth-williams. Ah smyth you bastard.

  14. Posted this in the most recent blog’s comments too since I dont know if you guys notice the comments in older blogs. But this is the blog Im referring to, for some reason the link didnt post to this blog when I commented on the other.

    Did you guys steal the idea you wrote about in this blog said the exact same thing weeks ago, even using the exact same players as examples (Smyth, Handzus, Simmonds, even Poni).

  15. Looks like I posted under my wordpress name by accident. I established awhile ago that I run Shark Circle when I accidentally commented with that name, but I try not to brag about it because explaining to Sharks fans why I have a vested interest in the Kings gets complicated. I think I even asked you guys to delete that comment so I could repost it with a guest name (3 team fan).

    Anyway that’s how I know about the shark circle article, because I wrote it. I really like your blog, and I visited it for the first time today or maybe even two days, and saw this “LA kings have lost their identity” blog, and though wait, what? It couldnt be about my blog…right? Then I read the first sentence, talking about size, cycle, and the exact four names I used in my blog, everything else the same, and I was like wow, it is about my blog.

    But then there was no mention of it, which is why I commented saying as much.

    Anyway, like I said, I really like your blogs, you two are really cool guys so I doubt you would purposely steal someone’s ideas or anything. You just wrote literally the exact same things I wrote, which means either you read it or its the craziest coincidence of all time, and I just wish you mentioned it.

    • No. Although I am a bit confused as to why there are 4 comments on the same thing. I will give you the background. Are you 3TeamFan?

      This article I wrote was initially written back in October (a totally different animal then, but addressing the identity issue) – it was entitled “What is the LA Kings 2011-2012 Identity?” I didn’t publish it then because I wanted to see if Murray would make the adjustments like he hinted he would. I was concerned that we would play the same game with these new players.

      I then updated it in November, 11/18 to be exact, as I began to see that we really miss the players (Smyth’s behind the net play and separately Zeus, Poni and Simmonds’ size) that left and have made zero adjustments.

      Then, I think it was Lisa Dillman (LA Times) or someone wrote an article about how the Kings have lost their identity (I think it was even titled that). I could be wrong on Dillman. The article didn’t go into any details of the game and what exactly was different and I thought, it’s time to dig that bad boy up. I then revised it again and it became what you see here.

      The only “Sharks” blog I have previously read was fear the fin but I will add you to the list if you keep your blog updated (one of my pet peeves with bloggers who don’t).

      I did enjoy your article. The only thing I would say is, while the premise is the same, being a season ticket holder and going to 98% of the game, it wasn’t just a cycle issue (which you focus on) but what came after the cycle and the specific offensive attack, something (unless I missed it) you don’t address. I also completely disagree with your premise that we don’t have the finishers and top 6 skill. The spooky part, which I was shocked to read, was the comparison to other teams. It was the Chicago or Red Wings game that we got our butts kicked that I told Surly something to the effect of “what the fuck would the ___ (Blackhawks or Red Wings) look like if they played our system?” I think he commented, “like us” or “shit”. I think that is the most striking similarity between our articles but I will chalk it up to great minds think alike (and something I have been bitching about on this site for Murray’s entire tenure)

      p.s., I found the Lisa Dillman article. Here is the link.,0,2397047.story. She published it 2 days before my article.

      p.s.s., I don’t give you any grief for thinking that, by the way. I see striking similarities between what we write and, days or weeks later, what other bloggers or even media (a couple have been nearly word for word) write several times a season. I chalk it up to there is only so many premises you can discuss in different ways (or I take it as a compliment) although those couple of times I mention, I know a certain someone literally copied our article and changed a few words. I won’t say who :) I took it as a compliment. Also, I am adding to the article a link to yours with a “great minds think alike” tag line as a gesture of good faith.

  16. Hey Bobby,

    Apologies on the four comments. There wasnt supposed to be. What happened is 2 things. First, I intended to write 2 comments, one on this blog since its about this blog, one of the newer one since I wasnt sure you checked the old blogs.

    I did that, but when I linked to this blog in the comment on the other blog, the link did not show up, so I wrote a third comment with the link in it.

    The fourth comment, because I was going back and forth between blogs and had many windows open (I had your other new blogs open in tabs as well), I must have double posted or something.

    As for the articles, you said it best, such striking similarities. Like I said before you guys were awesome, I would never have thought “these are the type of guys who would steal someone’s idea.” You even cited my comment in an earlier article as a basis for discussion (although it was to disagree with the comment not write the same thing).

    Its just that the two articles were so similar, down to the exact names used as examples. Especially Ponikarovsky. I mean, Poni was pretty awful for the Kings. When I included him in my list of players who were key to the Kings identity, I figured I would get grief for that because he wasnt a good player for the Kings, overall, or a regularly used one. But I only included him on the basis of, sort of in his role. He alone leaving would not have affected the Kings identity much the same as Smyth or Simmonds, but I meant it more as, it adds up. Even if he wasnt great overall, he was big and protected the puck, and you get enough of those guys on one team, it adds up and becomes an identity.

    But I only included him in a subtle way, which is why it was such a weird experience not just reading Smyth, Simmonds, and Handzus on your blog, but Ponikarovsky to top it off.

    As for the Dillman article, I didnt read that. I got the idea to write about this topic from watching the Kings and noticing that they seemed to have lost their one strength from last season and not really gained a new one. Then I read a Hammond interview with Lombardi where he talked about needing to find an offensive identity, which i quoted in the blog.

    As for our blogs not saying the same thing, we said basically the same thing in terms of the identity, cycle, size, the players needed to play Murray’s system, etc. I didnt talk about the aspect of making passes from down low up to the point and then having the defencemen shooting because I think anyone can pass it from down low to up top. Mike Richards is just as good a passer as Ryan Smyth, in fact hes better. Gagne can pass it up there. Likewise, the Kings defense is largely the same, so they can shoot it the same. So the passes from low to high and the ensuing shots I didnt see as an issue. It was the ability to gain control of the puck down low in the first place so as to have the ability to even attempt passes up high that I think has changed. Its not that the Kings can no longer make simple low-high passes, it’s that they cant retrieve and control the puck down low as well now because theyre not as good along the boards. Theyre not as big, dont cycle as well, etc.

    So I think we talked about the same issue we just expressed it differentially, and you elaborated a bit more on the low-high, where I sort of left it to deduction (if you cant control the puck as much down low then you cant pass it up to the point as much from down low. If youre not as big you usually cant screen the goalies as well anymore, with some exceptions).

    The premise that the Kings dont have enough talent in the top-six is definitely different though, but that was sort of the next thought. But exactly, it is scary, isnt it? The one thing I dont get is if it scares you looking at that comparison, it must mean you realize the Blackhawks have way more talent in their top-six than the Kings. So if you think that, isnt that the same as thinking the Kings dont have enough? Because thats the standard I was basing it on. Are they as talented up front as the Blackhawks or Canucks, or other top 10 offenses? If no, then thats not good enough.

    Speaking of scary, did you see the Sharks Blackhawks game last night? The Sharks played a harder working game and outmuscled the Hawks because theyre a smaller team, but the Hawks especially were scary with their speed and skill. If you saw the pace that game was played at, I think that really has to be of worry. I mean the Kings can be good at slowing games down to their benefit, so maybe they can handle it that way, but just in terms of pure speed and finesse talent, the Kings cant match up with the Blackhawks. Then again, neither can the Sharks, really. They resorted to muddying it up too in large part, creating offense off the cycle.

    Anyway, looks like it was just a crazy coincidence after all. Sorry if I was accusatory. But Im glad you understand, its just that the blogs were so identical it was uncanny, and I mean Ive been linking to you guys for awhile now, which gives you the means of seeing my blog. Someone clicks on your link from the page of my blog, and it tells you where the web traffic came from with a link to that blog. So I thought there’s an easy explanation for how you could have seen the blog, and the main ideas of the two blogs are exactly identical, I just didnt know what to think.

    And yeah I do update my blog, stayed up until 2 AM two nights ago with a headache writing two blogs.

    Anyway, hey, you wrote a fantastic blog. I think the concept that the Kings sort of subtracted by addition not necessary by net talent, but the style of that talent, its a very subtle concept, and a really interesting one. Thats why I like you guys, youre such the opposite of the inside-the-box hockey bloggers with no creativity that comprise like 99% of the people covering our sport. I hope to bring people unique perspectives too in my own way with my blog.

    Keep up the good work. And by all means, feel free to delete these Shark Circle comments, or all of the ones on this topic. I never wanted to comment with my Shark Circle name because its probably bad for my Sharks blogs reputation that Im just as much as Kings fan lol. I tried to be up front about it with the name 3teamfan, but still didnt want to advertise it.

    See ya

    • I disagree with you about Poni. Again, this is from seeing nearly every home game live but I also think I am neurotic about watching the players on the ice, not just the overall play. Poni played his role very well. Murray stuck him on a shut down line where he drew the the other team’s top lines. He used his size to keep that puck in the offensive zone and away from the opposing forwards. When he went down to injury, there was a noticeable decline in our ability to cycle the puck and hold possession. He was a valuable member of this team and the only reason people he say he “sucked” is because they didn’t see him every day. His O number suffered because he was not in an O role. He was there to dump, chase, cycle and hold possession as well as play defense. When he was moved to the top line and second line, he played his role well. Murray was a line juggling fool. No player could build any inconsistency with him. In short, we loved Poni. He was just as important as Zeus though not nearly as popular (blame the hair).

      It’s more than just cycling but let’s leave that for another discussion. Too much details of the game to go into in a comment. Cycling is scratching the surface of it.

      Not sure I understand your premise regarding the Hawks. They have a great top 4. We have Kopitar, Richards and Brown. Are they better? Maybe. But, for me, it’s close. What they have that we don’t is the experience that comes with winning a Cup. There isn’t a single line up in the NHL that I look out and I say, “their top 6 is so much better than us.” Not one. Having said that, I know others will disagree and that is fine. We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of our O potential.

      I did not see the Sharks v. Blackhawks game. I read about it.

      I was surprised to read you have linked to us. We are a WordPress blog. I can tell you I have never seen a single blog reference from Sharks Circle to us. WordPress (I am going off memory) doesn’t tell you when someone has linked to you. It tells you when someone has linked to you and someone has visited here from that link. I could be wrong because we don’t play that close of an attention to it. Regardless, I know at almost 100% certainly, I have never seen your blog name on it. I can check later tonight or tomorrow.

      Regarding “bad for your reputation” to be a Kings’ fan, just for that, I may keep those comments :) lol. Come to the dark side.

  17. *are awesome not were awesome 0.o. Also I forgot to mention that amidst the four comment mixup, I did post two of them on the newer blog, and I think they got moved to this one, which is why they are repeated over and over here.

  18. I agree Poni was a great fourth liner. Looks like ive poorly articulated my point of view as a whole. What I meant was, Poni was brought into be a 20 goal guy, a really, really good 3rd liner, maybe even play some top 6.

    In that context, he was “awful.” Awful is a harsh word, i dont always do the best job of sugar coating or using more subtle terms. He did not deliver on his contract or the expectations. He was not a very good 3rd liner. He played on the fourth line.

    Thats why i said awful here. But if I thought he was actually awful for the Kings I wouldnt have included him as a notable loss to the Kings identity in my blog. Because as a fourth liner, which the Kings fourth line was not insignificant as he played over 11 minutes a night, he was an a definite advantage. An advantage in quality of player over the oppositions fourth liners, and an advantage in size and the players that could play Terry Murray’s system. And those players add up even if theyre just at 11 minutes a night.

    So I think we see things the same there unless you believe Poni was a very good third liner and lived up to expectations. My point was less about Poni’s game and just stating that I wouldnt have expected others to agree with my inclusion of him simply because he didnt produce, and thats enough for most to write a player off completely. In the end it just shows you saw more in him as I did.

  19. Ill address your other points later as Im watching a game right now. Let me know if I should do so here in this old blog or start commenting on the newest one.

    Also do you guys have an email for the blog?


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