Aggressive. Easier Said Than Done For Young L.A. Kings Players Like Dwight King

Hockey is a fast sport. You have heard this, right? You believe it? It’s an incomplete statement. Hockey is a fast transitional sport. The game transitions quickly from offense to defense and back, from pass to shot, from shot to save and from save to breakout. Hockey doesn’t have a pause or reset button while the game is in play. It’s constantly in motion. Even player substitutions happen on the fly absent a whistle.

For rookies and younger players, the transitions are where the “thinking” takes place. “Who do I…”, “what do I…”, “where do I…” is the hamster that turns the wheel in their heads and can cause them to be a half of one second late to the puck, ahead or behind the play or, for the young defenseman, to the man or place on the ice they are supposed to defend as the forward blows right by.

Young players make up for the delay caused by this “thought process” by playing a conservative game, not jumping into the offensive zone or creating a bigger gap than they should on defense to give themselves the ever important cushion if something goes wrong. Sometimes it works. Sometimes, it makes the problem worse. In the playoffs, all of this is magnified.

Surly commented that he has not been happy with Dwight King’s play, that King needs to get off the second line and Nolan needs to replace him there. Surly is right. He is also wrong. King is in his first NHL playoffs. He is young, he is raw and I can see him thinking out there.

“See him thinking?” Yes.

His skating stride, puck pursuit on offense and gap control on defense show me that he is afraid to make a mistake, he isn’t being what Darryl Sutter has called out as necessary to victory – “aggressive” – to the puck and with it. Last night, as Jeff Carter picked up his game and seems to have healed enough from his deep bone bruise to coil, push, dig on the inside edge of his skates and generate power through his stride, Dwight King was more exposed. He was behind the play. He waited too long to get open. He was the weak link on that line and he caused several potential quality scoring opportunities to not develop. So, should he be taken off that line? I think so. Should Jordan Nolan substitute for King? No.

Nolan is currently in a fourth line role, an energy role and not really expected to do as much as King on the second line. Unless Surly sees something in Nolan that I yet don’t, a hockey sense and mature game beyond his years, I don’t see how replacing one rookie for another fixes this. Don’t get me wrong. I like Nolan, a lot. I will never forget being at the rookie camp two seasons ago, watching him play and Surly & I exchanging a “wow, this kid has serious potential” which was met with a “he will never make it” from a certain other blogger who will remain unmentioned.

My solution? Either don’t change a thing and keep Dwight King where he is to see if he can pick up his game (and confidence in himself to get more aggressive) or switch him out for Brad Richardson, a veteran who doesn’t bring the size but who also doesn’t get caught thinking too much out there.


Categories: L.A. Kings News

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20 replies

  1. This post is unrelated to the article: Kings Drinking Game (yeah I’m that bored and I just took finals so a drinking game is what I need for the next game):
    1 Drink:
    Kings goalie save
    Kings blocked shot
    Kings shoot it wide
    Someone on the Kings falls down (except Doughty)
    Kings hit someone (except Brown)

    2 Drinks:
    Commercial break
    Kings take a penalty
    Doughty falls down
    Brown hits someone
    A Canuck dives
    Other team scores

    3 Drinks:
    The camera goes to Sutter and he has his bitter beer face
    The announcers mention “Vezina”
    The camera goes to Brown and he’s got his goofy ass smile

    Finish your beer:
    Kings score
    Period ends

    Any suggestions?

    • Interesting. What do you do for an OT, a fight, a brawl, a hat trick, open netter, Carter GWG, Quick SO, Sedin sisters accidentally head butting each other and KOed on the ice, Kesler stretcher removal, Bitz looses five or more teeth, or Vigneault ejected.

      In any event, send the bar bill to the Kings front office as they owe it to us fans for sticking with them through so many lean years. Not only that, the front office owes Surly and Scribe a corporate suite for each remaining home game during this playoff season, given everything they constantly do to pump up and spread the die hard fan base.

      • Great suggestions:
        OT: nothing really (you finish your beer after every one like a normal period.
        a fight: 3 drinks
        a brawl: finish your beer
        a hat trick: take three shots
        open netter: nothing because empty netters are for homos (same as a goal)
        Carter GWG: no
        Quick SO: nothin
        Vigneault ejected: finish your beer.

        I’d do that but I’m not going a bar because bars frown upon having 19 year olds ordering drinks.

    • You should add drink 2 if Matt Greene looses his helmet.

  2. what about replacing him with Penner?

  3. I don’t think Dwight King is the problem. Yes he lacks NHL playoff experience but I think he’s doing a relatively ok job considering.

    I think it’s Mike Richards who needs to step it up. The guy yaps about being a leader this, heart and soul that well being that the Kings haven’t gotten outta the first round in a while and him claiming to be a leader, he needs to come and bring it every single game, every single shift.

    He needs to take it easy on those really lame no look passes to his linemates. He needs to get in there and get physical. I’m saying this because I don’t see a consistency to his game. The other three lines I know what I’m getting. Penner could step it up too. For a big guy he sure does get knocked off the puck relatively easily. Richards line is hit or miss and that’s just not gonna cut it against the Canucks.

    • Since day 1 Mike Richards has made stupid fancy ass passing plays that don’t work that made us lose possession (especially on the PP) and end up on the defensive. He’s not as skilled as he thinks he is, isn’t big enough to dominate people physically, frequently underestimates his opponent, doesn’t consistently put in the necessary effort to battle for the puck along the boards and just be tough to play against all around, and is way overconfident given how he has performed so far.

      I honestly think he needs to learn to be more humble and to take a page out of our 4th line scrubs’ playbook: simple plays to protect the puck or put it in a good place to battle for it combined with lots of hard work and hustle. Even Kopi is really good at making these types of decisions with the puck. Instead of making some 1 in a 100 type pass on the power play that gets intercepted and cleared, make the easy play that ensures the puck stays inside the zone and the opponent can’t make a change.

      • those “stupid fancy ass passing plays” don’t work 99% of the time because the rest of the team is behind. case in point – dwight king

        • No, they don’t work because they are stupid plays. They would be turnovers with anybody else on his line.

          • You have forgotten what a well executed cross seam pass looks like. Or a back door goal through the crease.

            Damn you Terry Murray.

          • I have no problem with those. Trying and failing at those is not a problem. And they don’t automatically make you lose possession on the PP either. A stupid cutesy pass from the point to the other point man or the man on the half boards doesn’t gain you anything, and it’s especially dumb when he could have made that pass a second earlier when he was actually open.

            I have a problem with jerking off with the puck and then trying to make a feeble saucer pass (fuck doughty stop doing this) or sending it through a spot only as wide as the puck itself, and other overly cutesy plays.

            I have a problem with overly fancy plays that don’t work. Trying to slip a nothing pass through skates and sticks on the PP instead of just making a pass away from a possible poke check to maintain possession. Half the times the plays he’s trying to make don’t really have much more value than the safer play.

            And when you make these plays when you have players going towards the net you put them way out of position and you give up fast breaks the other way.

            I’ve said this from day 1, he has a serious case of FPS.

          • He has a case of frames per second?

          • Fancy Play Syndrome. Forgot to define by acronym.

  4. King might surprise us in a good way. The guy wants to check and battle and hang out around the net. He is strong and tough to block out.
    For me he can play that role for now. The guy is eager to please and contribute. He shows heart and can grind.
    I would go by the odds that if the Kings win game 5 it happened from a combination great game by Quick and the top tier 5 forwards. Those guys can put it all together and close the series out.

  5. Truly I am hoping Clifford is healthy for Sunday and can play on that line.

  6. Dwight King is -3. Vancouver only has 5 even strength goals. Vigneault has pinpointed the weakness and exploited it.

    • This after the first game where Vigneault said he needed to find an answer to the Richards line. Well, asked and answered, only problem is we answered it for him by Richards’ tailing off himself. If Richards gets going and plays again like he did in game one then it won’t matter quite as much who is on that LW.

      • couldn’t agree more. sutter said your big players have to play big. kopi and brown got the message. carter and richards missed the memo.

  7. “Unless Surly sees something in Nolan that I yet don’t, a hockey sense and mature game beyond his years, I don’t see how replacing one rookie for another fixes this. ”

    If I could take a guess, maybe the idea behind Surly’s thinking is that Nolan has the natural talent where maybe he doesn’t have to rely on hockey sense and maturity the way that King does. In other words, the moment King starts losing his aggressiveness and smarts, his game isn’t good enough, where Nolan maybe has the speed and hands to be a decent player even if he’s not thinking the game or reacting the game well.

    In my opinion, Nolan is the more talented player physically, and he has more of a natural top-six forward skillset than King, and would definitely be worth trying there.

    WIth that said, aside from a few games, King has won me over. I wasn’t a fan initially specifically because he doesn’t look like what you would normally think of as a top-six forward or a good forward offensively at all, but he does things his own way, has his own unique combinations of skills that wouldn’t necessarily normally amount to someone who could create offense, but I think he’s more skilled than maybe he looks at first, and that’s why he can.

    And he does seem more mature, experienced, etc, than Nolan, and he does the dirty work well for that line, so maybe he’s still the better option.

    I would definitely try Nolan there though for his skill. He deserves a shot.


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