Is It Time to Reunite Jeff Carter and Mike Richards?

Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar seem to work. That’s really not a surprise. You put me with Kopitar and I will score a few goals too. Give me the opportunity to dish the puck to Jeff Carter and he will bury them.

Unfortunately, the new dynamic duo of Val Kilmer Batman (Carter) and Frankenstein have left a hole where Robin used to be. Mike Richards had a good game last night against the Detroit Red Wings. That is to say he won face-offs, had scoring chances and was very much part of the solution as opposed to the problem.

Unfortunately, he, like several of his linemates, have struggled to bury the biscuit.

This is not a condemnation of Mike Richards. This is a question of whether or not the experiment to make Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar click is causing unintended collateral consequences to our offense of depth.


Categories: L.A. Kings News


8 replies

  1. Yes, the Kopitar/Carter experiment has shown that Kopitar is a quality Center (we already new that) and Carter will get a quality shot on goal (We already knew that too!) when he gets a good pass. Kopitar AND King have done a good job of giving him good passes. We also know that Kopitar has a pretty good shot … with a better than average chance of scoring. King has shown that he has pretty good hands as well … both passing and shooting.

    Regarding Richards, we know he is a good passer. As for his ability to consistently bury the puck … he’s a better passer. To get Richards to be productive again, he needs someone who can bury the puck when they receive his quality passes. Right now, his wingers aren’t getting it done. Unfortunately, he is now trying to put the puck in the net by himself. And it isn’t working. The problem is that we only have one Carter on the team. Can we clone Carter? That would be nice, but then everyone would have a lot of Carters!

    It all goes back to the Kings not having enough good wingers. What can be done about it? Justin Williams is pretty good. He should go on the first line with Kopitar and King. Then, Carter should go back with Richards. Hoping that Frattin can begin to score a few goals, King should stay on the first line and Frattin should stay on the second line. If Frattin doesn’t begin to score, Sutter can use one of the other left wings and hope for better results.

    The third line should see the “Young Guns of Manchester” reunited. Maybe Toffoli would begin to prosper again.

    Everyone else can compete to be on the fourth line. Sutter can experiment with the fourth line until something works. At least lines one and two should work. Line three should probably add a few goals. And even if the fourth line doesn’t score, they can work hard and be tough.

    Lewis has bad hands … defensively and offensively. Yes, he can skate but that doesn’t accomplish a lot.

    Defensively, Muzzin’s got to go. At least Green is solid defensively. Martinez? I don’t know, but he’s certainly not as horrible as Muzzin has proved himself to be.

    Something drastic needs to be done. If it stays the same, the Kings will continue to score few goals and most probably not have a successful second half. Scoring 0 or 1 goal per game isn’t going to get it done. Look at last night. The Kings made a couple of defensive mistakes that cost them. And they lost. If they don’t play the perfect defensive game, and get at least one goal, they won’t win.

  2. Why not try king-kopitar-Williams carter-Richards-brown tofolli-stoll-frattin Pearson-Lewis-cliffy/nolan

  3. Yes, yes and fuck yes!
    It’s also time to trade Kyle Clifford and Dustin Brown for Evander Kane!!

  4. Toffoli needs to play in the top six for more than a week too!

  5. Muzzin finally scratched! About fuckin time! Not what I expected in forward line changes. Seems like Sutter wants everyone on their off wing, that way when the playoffs come we can switch back, and dominate. He should just make everybody play with opposite side sticks, and ankle weights. Same diff. My 2¢. Whatever. GKG \X/.

  6. Bobby you’ve outlined the problem very clearly.

    A complete team that isn’t in need of upgrade doesn’t have to make this decision. “Do we want our 1st line to have a good RW, or do we want our 2nd line to have a good RW?” A complete team not in need of upgrading has both.

    But getting to the players themselves, there are a few ways of looking at it.

    1. Kopitar is a distributor, Carter is a shooter, both are big and together they create huge matchup problems and are a great match for each other, so they should be kept together.

    2. Mike Richards is undersized and his biggest weaknesses are his size and his speed, both of which Carter makes up for. Likewise Tyler Toffoli is undersized and his only real slight non-strengths are his size and his skating. Whereas Carter and Kopitar are the opposite.

    So basically, by having Richards and Toffoli together, you have two undersized players on the same line with no one to cover for them. This is why I’ve always felt Kyle Palmieri was the perfect fit on Getzlaf and Perry’s line in Anaheim, because Palmieri has all the talent except he’s undersized and gets knocked off the puck some. Playing with Getzlaf and Perry totally covers that weakness for him, and allows him to get on with everything else which he excels at.

    So a similar argument could be made here, the opposite argument of my first point. What could Toffoli accomplish if he played with someone like Kopitar, who could cover his only weaknesses? He could just put the puck behind the net to Kopitar whenever he gets under pressure and have Kopitar take care of the defense and maintain possession, instead of getting knocked off the puck when he’s with Richards, or giving it to Richards and having Richards get knocked off the puck, and losing offensive zone possession. Putting Toffoli with Kopitar covers his only weaknesses, putting Richards with Carter covers Richards only weaknesses.

    So it’s a matter of preference. Do you like doubling down on strengths, creating this unstoppable force of two fast, big, skilled, premier two-way forwards on one like in Kopitar and Carter, or do you match their size with undersized guys like Richards and Toffoli to create better balance?

    We’ve seen both work, obviously. Getzlaf and Perry together works because it creates so much of a strength you’re getting multiple goals per game from that line on many nights. Thornton and Burns together works because it’s just two huge 6’5 guys with such huge reaches, very few teams can match up. And as good as Carter and Kopitar are, Carter is not Brent Burns, physically. Kopi and Carts are the better two-way pair, the better hockey sense, the more complete, but I’m not sure they quite create that same unstoppable offensive force as Getzlaf and Perry do, or even Thornton and Burns do with their dual-huge-reaches.

    But that doesn’t mean you separate them. In my opinion, the problem really comes down to Richards. Toffoli can handle it. He’s undersized but he’s got more explosiveness in his stride than Richards to make up for it. But Richards just isn’t quite doing it. What happened to the player in Philadelphia? He used to be a complete power forward who scored 30 goals. Now all people can say about him is that he’s a “distributor” because what else are you going to say about a guy who’s not scoring at all? But they’re right. He’s turned into just a pure passer and power-play specialist type of guy. Who happened to the dominant 5-on-5 forward who could win battles against bigger players? The Mike Richards we’re seeing lately is basically a slower version of Alex Tanguay, except he’s a center. Now I actually like Alex Tanguay, but you get my point. And Tanguay is a lot faster. Tanguay is a rush player. And he really is a pure passer. Richards is a good passer, but Tanguay is one of the best. Would I trade Richards for Tanguay? No, Richards is a center, it’s more complicated than all of that, and he has the name “Mike Richards” which means something because of what he’s done in the past in Philadelphia. I just need to start seeing it in LA.

    When the Richards and Carter trades happened, back then everyone thought Richards was the better player. Certainly the better two-way player. And now look, we’re talking about needing Carter to play with him to cover for him, to carry him. How did everything get switched around like that? Carter barely even played with him in Philadelphia. Now all of a sudden he can’t function without Carter on his wing? It’s just not a good sign.

    But here’s what I’d like to see, just some ideas.

    A. Trade for another scorer.

    B. Try a few different things. Try Frattin and Carter with Richards. If Richards doesn’t have the strength and explosive stride anymore to make his own space along the walls, if he’s really just going to be a slower Alex Tanguay who plays center, then lets at least give him two rush players to work off of that way in open ice. Also try Toffoli on left wing with Richards and Carter because I think that would work really well. Carter could cover for both of them that way at once in a sense.

    Then there is the opposite approach, give Richards more size. Dwight King and Carter on his wings. Clifford.

    C. Try Richards at wing, Carter at center. Center is the more demanding position, physically. People talk about “big centers” for a reason. Size is more important at center than it is at wing. Richards has never matched up size wise against top centers, but he made up for his size in the past with superior speed. Well now that he’s lost a step, they’re faster than him, too. Getzlaf, Thornton, Ribeiro even, and many other top 6 centers are faster than him in addition to being bigger. So how is he supposed to match up if he’s smaller AND slower?

    Well, there is someone who can match both of those things. Jeff Carter can match size and speed with 95% of centers in the NHL. So give Center the assignment of covering Getzlaf, Thornton, etc, since he can handle it, and let Richards play the wing where he can focus more on using his current strengths, which have become almost completely hockey sense and passing and offense.

    C. I think Richards would do pretty well with Evander Kane and Jeff Carter as his wings. Just a thought. That’s a double serving of having huge, super fast wings beside him.


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