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Kings Gameday: Cha-a-a-a-nge

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Next Game

Los Angeles Kings
@ Carolina Hurricanes

Wednesday, Nov 11, 2009, 4:00 PM PST
RBC Center

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Canes Country is a big fan of Preston Brooks
.

Sorry I haven't written anything of substance in about a week; I'm moving pretty soon and I'm working on big changes at work and blah blah blah nobody cares. In the week since I wrote, the Kings reached the highest of highs and then fell to the lowest of lows. The Kings defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 last Thursday, riding a 4-goal third period and a dominant performance by Anze Kopitar and his compatriots on the top line. Then the Kings dropped a trap game to the Nashville Predators, losing 3-1 despite the absence of Shea Weber from the Nashville bench. Finally, the Kings got rocked against the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday thanks to a dominant 3rd period by the Hawks and a lackluster performance by Jonathan Quick. Overall, the Kings look like they're in a funk. The quick answer to problems like the one the Kings face right now is to change something, but is there really any reason to change? Let's take a look.

Goaltending: Jonathan Quick has... not been bad, but he hasn't been good either. He let in a pretty bad goal against the Blackhawks and is stuck with a .900 save percentage overall. Quick has made a lot of good saves this season, but he's a goalie who tends to use his limbs instead of his body to make saves so he's more likely to make saves that "look" good. And of course, what's the point of having a goaltender that makes a sprawling glove save if he can't stop a blue line wrist shot, like the one Jordan Staal scored on last Thursday?

Cha-a-a-a-nge: The Kings don't have much faith in Erik Ersberg but they could always call up Jonathan Bernier, who has been killing it in the AHL. They could send down Peter Harrold or Ted Purcell and run with three goalies for a little while, just to see who performs the best. Quick is a player that likes a challenge, so maybe handing him the starting goaltender job wasn't the best decision; maybe a little competition is just what he needs to rise to the expectations we all have for him.

Ultimately, though, I don't think the Kings will make any changes in goal, at least not right now. They'll wait at least until December to see if Quick picks it up or if Bernier cools down. I'm still expecting Bernier to be up in LA by the end of the winter olympics, but it's premature to bring chaos to the crease.

Defense: Defense is fine. The Kings are 2nd in the league in shots against (26.3 shots a game), which is excellent. The Kings recently made a cha-a-a-a-nge on defense, moving Rob Scuderi alongside Drew Doughty and giving Jack Johnson a little help by pairing him alongside Sean O'Donnell. The change did two things: it allowed Rob Scuderi to play on his natural (left) side, and it provided the Kings' two young defenders with players that matched their style. Drew Doughty is positionally solid so pairing him with the positionally perfect Rob Scuderi gives the Kings a top defensive pair that will never be out of position; Jack Johnson is a great physical defenseman but is out of position occasionally, so giving him someone like Sean O'Donnell gives Johnson someone who can recognize this and cover for him. And then there's Matt Greene and Davis Drewiske, who are just okay but funny so I give them a pass.*

*Seriously, they could be their own hockey comedy troupe. You have the veteran Matt Greene, a big dumb guy that screws up but always manage to cover for himself, and then you have the young Davis Drewiske, who always seems like he's terrified to be out there. I don't know why, but every time they're on the ice they do at least one thing that makes me laugh.

Cha-a-a-a-nge: Nope, we're good. Randy Jones will probably get into a game at some point but it's not really necessary.

Offense: The Kings' offense have scored 2 goals in the past 2 games, both goals created by Anze Kopitar's line. This is how the Kings have been skating since Justin Williams came back:

Smyth-Kopitar-Williams

Frolov-Handzus-Simmonds

Parse-Stoll-Brown

Ivanans*-Richardson-Purcell

*He's played in every game this season. Yeesh.

Overall I think these lines are fine but I'm not a big fan of them when the Kings are on the road. The problem with being on the road is that the other team can match your lines and get the best match-ups possible. With the Kings constructed as they are, opposing teams (say, the Blackhawks) can match their best defensive line against Kopitar's line and then skate their best offensive line against Stoll's line, which is probably the weakest of our three defensive lines. The Kings are then left with a good match-up for Handzus' line, but they're built for defense, not offense. It puts the Kings at a disadvantage and doesn't provide them with the best chance to win.

Cha-a-a-a-nge: I don't understand why teams don't mix up their lines when they're home and away. The Kings should use their current lines when they're at home (because they can get Handzus' line against the top scoring line of the other team), but they should use a Frolov-Handzus-Brown line when they're away. It forces the other team to use their best two lines against the Kings' best two lines and it's a match-up the Kings can win against most teams. Depending on the the other team, the Kings can either make their third line a scoring line (Parse-Stoll-Purcell) or a more defensive line (Parse-Stoll-Simmonds). I don't know, makes sense to me.

***

I made the mistake of agreeing to be on the LCS Hockey radio show tonight at 6 PM, which means I'm going to miss the third period of tonight's game. Either that, or I'll be randomly yelling, "Fuck!" or "Fuck yes!" while they're talking. Your'e welcome to listen but you should be warned that I'm not funny at all when I speak. On the plus side, you can listen as my voice starts kinda deep and then gets progressively higher as I get more comfortable.

Prediction: Voice cracks win, 3-0.