Santa’s Gone And He Dropped These Ugly Coyotes In The Wrong House

First off, I hope all of your Christmas Days were pleasant. I won’t wish you a happy Boxing Day, because I don’t really care. But thanks to baby Jesus and his analogous Pagan precursors for giving us all an excuse to eat, drink and give each other presents. I got a comfy new duvet (because I’m a lazy schmuck), a gnarly tea set (because I’m an old man), and a LEGO Batman (because I’m a child). I hope that you all received stuff that is better than useless too. But now that it’s all over, it’s time to get back to merciless, violent hockey, starting with the mutilation of dogs.

The Kings are coming off a loss, though they have points in their last 3 games. I’m not sure what I desire more tonight against the Coyotes, a win that involves scoring 3 or more goals, or a win that comes before the shootout. Ah, who am I kidding, the two kind of go hand in hand.

You know what else I would like? A better power play. Goals would be nice, but a PP that doesn’t suck momentum from our haunches like pot roast juices into a baster would be enough at this point. Our man advantage play has fallen to 23rd in the league at 15.4%. Phoenix’s is worse still, at 27th, but their PK is also 13th at 82.9%. My lazy math tells me that means our PP should suck about 2% less usual. Or maybe that there is only a 2% chance we shouldn’t be able to score a goal. Or maybe it just means that testing out of math in high school wasn’t really a good thing for me in the long run.

There is something I’d like everyone to pay attention to tonight. After last game there was a bit of debate about how the Kings’ forecheck differs now from the Murray days. It seems that Scribe and I are in the minority in seeing some subtle, but key differences in their pursuit of the puck. Whereas Scribe is obsessed with the F2 and nagged by the F3 and a fan of the B-52s, I would like everyone to pay special attention to the front of net presence. What I have noticed since Sutter took over is that there is always a player cycling near the crease. Obviously this hasn’t amounted to much yet, the players are still snake bitten worse than that chick’s tit in the movie Bananas, but I find this difference in the Kings’ offensive pressure to be highly encouraging. Under Murray this year, the players set up around the boards and only once the puck went to the point did someone skate towards the front of the net. Now I am seeing a player heading towards the goalie almost all the time. This won’t make up for the Kings lack of a big bodies to plant there, something I hope a trade early in the new year can rectify, but at least this diversifies the attack and helps to draw defenders away from the puck. There was a reason we always got outnumbered on the puck in the offensive zone and the defense not having to worry about the front of the net much was a big reason for it. Drawing the opposition away from the puck can be as important as your play with the puck. So take a look and let’s all compare notes after the game.

I’m feeling encouraged about tonight. It is an important one, we can either tie the Coyotes for 9th place, or let our nearest Pacific rival pull 4 points away from us.

This is your open forum. Let’s talk presents and puck.

Categories: L.A. Kings News

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26 replies

  1. I have already noticed the increase in net presence, and I hope the next step is doing something with it tonight!

    • Jen the net presence has more or less been the same just that our boys are getting to the front faster…. whats more noticeable is the cross ice passes, the speed our team has when coming out of our own zone, and the physical play below the face off dots in the attacking zone…

  2. Not to diss those who I don’t think have quite the hockey knowledge and thus the lack of an eye for the subtle changes, but there have been changes as you have mentioned. I said from the beginning before Smeagel was hired that he is known for having players crash the net and be. Close by and that it should eventually lead to som se extra goals. The forwards have been playing differently as well. Less dump and chase, and they’ve also been dumping it in the corner more as opposed to throwing it around. Still too many shots out at the blue line, but the D are pinching in more which I like to see. It will be interesting to see how the changes in the system progress given more time to learn it.

  3. Phoenix is an aggressive offensive team and very well coached. To make up for the lesser talent, they don’t sit back and have an attack mentality. Their F3 is on the puck and their D1 sometimes acts as a rover. Their system, for lack of a better term, reminds me of the Penguins. They also pressure the points on D. I would not be surprised if tonight’s game turns shinny with end to end rushes and more wide open. How the Kings control the neutral zone may be the key, as will breakouts. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are several goals in the first period alone. I won’t attend in person tonight (just sent one of my tickets to Surly) but I will be watching at home.

  4. It’s hard to see on TV, but although the blue liner on the strong side is more aggressive pinching, the weak side defenseman has an exaggerated drop back, he skates to the middle half between center and the blue line. So even tho contesting possession looks more aggressive in-zone, the safety is there mid-ice.

    I like the net-front guy, but they have to get the puck there sooner. Also, the Kings are not very adept at being in front of the net with their stick on the ice and free; Stoll and Williams, for example, go thru but rarely stop, and when they do they are too close to a defender and often seem occupied with the defender instead of being ready for loose pucks.

    You realize, I hope, that what is being described above as a stronger forecheck is also working toward the “greasy” or “garbage” goal mentality…I have wanted the Kings to add this but not overdo it.

    Loose pucks around the crease should be a minimum expectation; but one-timers off the cycle, the low to high for a shot is still viable, and just beating a guy off the boards and crashing the net with others there is also a good way to use the netfront guy.

    If the Kings could just add the cross-ice pass from their D when the do the low-to-high play, it would really add to the attack. Their are three options; shot, dump back and cross-ice. Now, the Kings only do two of three.

    • I think the cross ice will come. I see, in measured amounts, an intent for it. Sticks on the ice around the crease has been one of my pet peeves. It’s almost as if the players have forgotten the damn stick needs to be on the ice to pick up the rebounds. Most aggravating is I consider this 101. You are correct – they are preoccupied with the defender, versus occupied with the shot and the bounce off the goalie’s pads. That brings me to keeping the shots low. I don’t know if it is too much curve on the stick or the impact point on the shot but the Kings are having a hell of a time keeping the shots low and below pad height. Flip that damn net forward in practice and hit its top for goodness sake. That is what I was taught.

  5. Ugh. So many things wrong with that play. Jack, make the pass and slide back. Willy, get the puck through. Willy, take him down! Quick, well… The shot was kinda perfect but still, such an exaggerated shimmy. Fucking Torres should never make that shot. He won’t, for another three seasons.

    Let’s just focus on how dominant Kopitar has been as was on the shift of Scuderi’s goal.

  6. … Beautiful pass by Patty O. You go, boy.

      • … Did someone piss in your egg nog?

        In unrelated news, the Kings have scored three goals in a game for the first time since their inception in 1967-68.

        • Yeah, you did by applauding the opposition.

          • Yeah, you did by applauding the opposition.

            … This is something you’re going to have to get used to, friend. Once I develop an emotional attachment to a Kings’ player (which I do for almost all of them who stick around for more than a season or so), I’m going to applaud any good things they do from that point on, whether they’re in Kings’ colors or not. I’m not a slave to the laundry. Never have been and never will be.

            Does that make me a traitor? Don’t know, and don’t really care. I know my loyalty to the team is strong; always is.

  7. … Cure for the King’s offensive woes: Jason LaBarbera.

  8. I don’t want to say scoring 4 against Jason LaBarbera and then celebrating is like banging a fat chick and then bragging about it but…it kind of is. Fuck it, she had a great smile!


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