Kings Gameday: Head & Heart

Heart: You bastards! (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

 






Head: It's not a big deal the Kings have lost 3 in a row. Every team loses 3 in a row at some point during the season. The Kings have outshot all 3 opponents during this little streak, the last 2 by 10. Their power play just hasn't been hitting and the penalty kill has given up some goals. Hey, it happens. No big deal.

Heart: Fuck!

Head: The power play was especially vexing last night. Since the Drew Doughty came back the Kings have put him on the right side of the umbrella with Jack Johnson in the middle and Anze Kopitar on the right side. One of the main reasons the Kings went after Ilya Kovalchuk, besides the fact that he's really really good, is because he is a right shot and would have been perfect alongside Doughty on the power play. Now the only right shots that can fire from the point are Doughty and Jarret Stoll.* The Kings tried to put Johnson on the left side, but since he was on his off-wing he was kind of useless there. After Doughty got hurt Johnson took over and they kept him up top when Doughty came back.

*Williams has been up there recently but he mostly wrists it.

The problem I have with this (and I've written this before) is that it turns Drew Doughty into a one-time man and outlet for when Johnson gets in trouble instead of the focal point of the power play, like he should be. It's buying a Porsche and then using it to drive down the driveway to get the mail. The problem is compounded by the fact that penalty kill units are responding by covering Doughty and Kopitar on the wings, daring Johnson to beat them. Johnson responds by skating around, trying to find a lane, before finally throwing it on net with a shot that is usually blocked.

Doughty had 31 power play points last season, 2nd most among defensemen; he needs to be driving the power play.

Heart: Fuck! I mean, just... fuck!

Head: Another thing that kind of bothered me, and I hope you'll forgive me for my emotional language, was Jonathan Bernier's inability to get to the top of the crease. The Sabres put a lot of pressure around the net, especially on the power play, and Bernier was too content to let the puck come to him. It's important for the goaltender to stake out his area atop the crease before the opposing player can get there, because that player can't touch you. If a goaltender gets to that spot first, he is either going to A) make the save, or B) get interfered with. Just sitting back gives up the fight. Bernier needs to be more active.

Heart: Fuck you, Bernier! Also, FUUUUUUUCK!!!

Head: Finally, on the top line: clearly, the Kings need someone else good on that line. I'm open to 3 possibilities:

1) Move Ryan Smyth back up there. I feel like the 2nd line has been run mostly through Justin Williams, so I think you could move Smyth and not lose too much of that line's success. Of course, I'm not sure Terry Murray would want to mess with his one line that's clicking right now.

2) Move Wayne Simmonds to the top line. Simmonds is a concierge player; he's great at taking care of the playmakers on his line and getting them the puck. What he's not great at is being the playmaker, which is what he's being asked to do with Alexei Ponikarovsky out. I think putting him on the top line would help that line get the puck in deep and then get Kopitar the puck with a chance to make a play.

The problem with this idea is that either Dustin Brown or Wayne Simmonds would have to play left wing. Both are right-handed and I think either one could do it; it's just a matter of whom. The left wing has more defensive responsibility than the right wing in Murray's system so that's a concern. I'd put Simmonds over there first. I think that line would have the potential to be dynamic.

3) Make a trade. I'm sure the Kings could find a reasonable stopgap, someone who wouldn't cost much but could sti-

Heart: Trade Simmonds and Schenn for Iginla!!! Teubert, Muzzin and Kozun for Penner! Kopitar for Lecavalier!

Head: What are you, retarded?

***

Prediction:

Head: Kings win, 3-1. Goals by Kopitar, Doughty and... Westgarth? Are you sure, Heart?

Heart: He's got moxie! Put 'im on the first line!

Head: Oh Heart, you so crazy.

Heart: Shut the fuck up, jughead.

Head: Sorry.

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