LA Kings vs. Phoenix Coyotes
1:00 PST, Fox Sports West
Through the first half of the season, Terry Murray was, how do you say, "liberal" with his lines. In other words, guys couldn't play together for 2 seconds without him losing Goddamned mind and shuffling them around. Recently, though, Murray has settled on the following formations, and I think they work pretty well:
They don't seem like they should work (I mean, Stoll and Calder are effective at even strength? The fuck?) but they do. I think it's because each line has its own identity and the players all have a similar view of the game. Fro-Ricky Raccoon-Sully all like to cycle the puck, go one-on-one and speed through the zone. Calder-Stoll*-Brown are all hard-driving, crash the net kind of guys. Richardson-Zeus-Simmonds aren't very similar, but Richardson and Simmonds are both speedy guys and complement Handzus' game well. And then the 4th line's ridiculous. But the key is, the lines are working well right now. I mean, Oscar Moller got sent down so guys like Calder, Armstrong and Harrold could play offense and I didn't think it was a bad decision. Strange.
*Jarret Stoll kinda looks like one of the apes from Congo got to him and crushed his head, right?
Meanwhile, can anyone figure out what's going on with the defensive pairings? Doughty and O'Donnell usually play together but then Doughty plays about 5 extra shifts a game with (what seems like) every other defenseman on the roster. Greene and Johnson play together except on the power play or penalty kill or when one of them is in the box, so that usually adds up to about 3 minutes a game. And Kyle Quincey... is he playing with Gauthier, I guess? I swear, I see him with a different linemate and in a different situation every time he's out on the ice. Anyone help out here?
The Kings lost against San Jose, which sucks, but more importantly they lost their hold on the #1 slot in shots allowed. It's funny, the two teams that are best at limiting shots met up and one team had 40 shots and the other had 32. The Kings and Sharks are now tied, so that's something you can keep an eye on. What's that? Oh, no one cares about it but me. Well, I'll keep an eye on it and let you know, then. Dick.
About that game: the thing that bothered me the most about it wasn't the hits (I thought both, especially the Armstrong hit, were legit, but I can see where you'd disagree), but the condescension dripping from the words of both the announcers and Sharks fans. Let me be frank: nobody gives a fuck about the Sharks yet. They're everyone's 3rd favorite team in the NHL and pretty much everyone's happy for them. Maybe that'll change when they make the Finals or win the Cup or their fans keep acting like douche bags, but nobody gives a fuck about the Sharks yet. You guys are acting like you're Paul Allen from American Psycho but right now you're more like the squirrelly gay guy that gets nice business cards; sure, you've run into success and we resent it a little, but we don't hate you enough to kill you. No team is going to be so upset that they can't hang with the big, bad Sharks that they start running people, especially when the game is still relatively close. Hockey players are professionals and no one in the NHL is going to try to hurt someone because they're mad about losing. I like the Sharks. I like Joe Thornton and I love Marc-Eduoard Vlasic. But you guys (the fans) need to start realizing that your team isn't special to anyone but yourselves. You used to be the best fans in the NHL and now you're turning into Detroit fans.
Phoenix, Phoenix... let's see... oh, Shane Doan! He's good. Who else... Kyle Turris, right? Let's see how he's doing... oh my, that's terrible. What about that Russian kid, the one Lombardi wanted... whoa, even worse. What the hell is going on in Phoenix? They have one of the best collections of young talent outside LA and Chicago, but they've been pretty bad this season. Maybe the young guys needed another year in the minors to season up a little. Or maybe they're too busy nailing all hot coed ass to actually, you know, concentrate on hockey. Can't say I blame 'em.
Prediction: Kings win, 4-1. Goals by Stoll, Simmonds, Brown and Armstrong. Please oh please let Ivanans fight Carcillo again.