What The Kings Need And What The Hockey Gods Hate
The Kings are owed one. The Kings played hard and got hosed in Detroit.
Enter Boston, where surely the Kings were due for some good fortune.
But the hockey gods despise the team that gives up quick goals after scoring one. Suddenly the Kings have become the team they used to be, with a penchant for giving up goals immediately after scoring their own. This phenomenon is on par with such undying Kings traditions as scoring troubles, trading players that go on to great success elsewhere, overpriced beer and creatively challenged team slogans.
I don’t want to talk much about this game, but I did notice one thing I wanted to mention: Kopitar had an extremely rare off-game on the defensive side of the puck. He was beaten one on one numerous times. Wasn’t necessarily the deciding factor by any means, just the most obscure thing I saw about today’s performance.
Moving right along, I’ve been mulling over the trade options and rumors floating around. Consensus seems to be “TOP SIX LEFT WING OR WE BURN STAPLES TO THE GROUND”. Ok, perhaps that’s a little dramatic, particularly since I’m not confident those of you who are dreaming of Evander Kane in a Kings uniform could manage to light a match. That takes motor skills. However, there are affordable and reasonable options out there on left wing, I’m just not trading for them.
If I’m Dean Lombardi, I’m trading for a defenseman.
A shut down defenseman.
I want Dan Girardi. I want Mark Stuart. I want Mark Fayne.
Are the Kings struggling offensively? Yup. Are they tops in the league defensively? Yup. So I must be crazy, right? Probably, yes.
I am thinking about the playoffs and I am confident this team has the talent to score plenty of goals come playoffs. The Kings biggest barriers to scoring goals right now are based on system, attitude and bad bounces. Adding another player doesn’t solve any of this. The Kings don’t score enough rebound goals, they don’t score enough one-timers. That will change and it isn’t some savior with a shot from another team that will do it. You don’t go trading for a Jeff Carter when you still have Jeff Carter. Brown and Richards may seem like they forgot how to shoot a puck, but that is temporary. The players we have coming back around to their average selves, not even their best selves, is all the offensive maladies need to be cured.
Conversely, the Kings success on defense is largely system based. The fact that Jake Muzzin doesn’t cost us a goal or four every game is a testament to Sutter, Stevens and Ranford. Matt Greene is hurt again for the second time this season. His back is a mess. Just as Mitchell needed replacing last year, so does Greene this year. I love the rugged Matt Greene we have come to know, but I am not confident that style and level of play can continue much longer even if and when he returns and I have no interest in watching this Muzzin/Doughty pairing go up against St Louis, Chicago, Anaheim or San Jose in the post season.
When the playoffs roll around, shutdown defensemen are the glue and we are lacking in shut down defensemen. I look at our team and on the forward side I see our Stanley Cup team. I look at the defense and I see something else. I see young, brilliant talent tied together by an outstanding but slightly overachieving Regehr and an ever-solid but still declining Mitchell. Voynov and Doughty excel on both sides of the puck, but they are not specialists and playing as much powerplay time as they do jacks their minutes up to the point where they can’t also be constantly relied upon for every defensive zone face-off and penalty kill. Adding a shutdown defensemen, like we did with Regehr last year, will do more for this team in April than another forward will.
I’m not interested in discussing who we trade for what, because that’s just speculation and we will get a choking portion of that whether we want it or not. I am only speaking towards what I feel is the best use of what assets we do end up using in a trade. I am happy to add a forward as well, but I see that as a secondary need. And, if I am adding a forward, it’s not a sniper, it’s a big body. It’s Penner but not Penner. The Kings miss that front of net presence on offense more than they miss a wicked wrist shot. Besides, it’s the bottom six where we suffer in scoring, not the top six.
So am I alone in this thinking? Ironically much of the offense we lack needs to come from the defense, but it’s not an offensive defenseman I crave for the Kings.
Ok fine, I’ll speculate, but just to fit in. A draft pick, a prospect and Muzzin or Martinez gets traded. The Kings will add a shutdown defenseman in his late 20s and an older, veteran bottom six player.
Chew on that, while we chew up and spit out Columbus.