Losers discuss their future while the Kings take another step toward the cup

Looking at some of the hockey news clearing houses, a lot of folks seem to have already moved well beyond being engaged watching this years finals. That's a shame. Given the predictions by more then a few to see LA right where they are right now, I don't think anyone can call this a Cinderella story. They had to work hard to get into the playoffs and catch their stride, but now that they have done so, I really do believe they are the best team in the West this year.

For a few years now, LA has been that team that has talent, has some size, has some grit that fails despite. Not only did they change the coach, who really doesn't have a different philosophy then his predecessor, but they took a gamble on trading some pieces and absorbing some cap hit. On paper, this is already a very tough looking team, but on the ice, a shift has occurred and they work their ass off in every zone. Quick is hot, there is no mistaking that. But between him and Brodeur, it is the team in front of them that is winning or losing the games. Right now, the Kings look to have no weakness that is exploitable for more then one goal.

Seeing Fraser out there and having a friend out here on my beer league team has given me enough interest to jump on the Kings wagon. That aside, the Kings stand poised to run the table with a stunning 16-2 record. That's incredible. Since we've already decided our upcoming season is an abject failure because Stan doesn't consult us, it's nice to have something to be excited about tomorrow. I hope I don't jinx it, but if the Kings do win, it should be something we all celebrate because it will show that in the end, the stifling bullshit, whining and diving douchebaggery of certain teams will not trump a hungry team that rolls four lines and doesn't relent. Good luck Kings.

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Tags: Stanely Cup Final

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  • Beg to differ here, Vegas. Sutter is a far more aggressive coach than T Murray was. Just like when he coached the 'hawks, dump it in and get all over it is his mantra. A few line-up changes and the acquisition of Carter has allowed him to move Stoll to the third line as a center. Let's not forget they gave to get Carter. Jack Johnson was no slouch either, though some say he was a little too offensive (not as in smelly). They brought up this Voynov D man to replace him. Voynov was in the minors for several years and I hope SB gets the hint here. Add to that the size in King and Nolan who also were buried in the minors and as they say en francais, voila!

    Suddenly the Kings morphed into a larger, more aggressive, team under Sutter's watch and although he needs some assistance in choosing the proper neckties, he doesn't in coaching. More than anyone I am happiest for him when they win it. He got a rough ride and was stampeded out of Calgary. One of my favorite Blackhawks. I saw him play a lot in Buffalo and Toronto way back when I lived in the center of the universe.

    You hit it dead on though and it's not like we haven't chewed the fat on this before— rolling four lines makes this team go. Everybody is involved and consequently everyone is contributing. Sutter's philosophy on match-ups is, you end up chasing, more than playing with, the puck. Q must be a genius to make the match-up game work.

    Another note from last night's game. The Kings had over 50 hits. Pop quiz: How many games does it take for the 'hawks to get 50 hits?

    What can you say about Quick too. I've considered him the best in the league for some time now. This guy will shatter records if he plays long enough. Good athletic, non drop'n'stop, non-butterfly goaltender. Relies on quickness and agility and Hoover's up anything that comes near him. SB should be taking notes on that too.

    Okay, time for us losers to get back to discussing our team and the apathy that surrounds it!

  • Further note: look at the Kings' D pairings and apart from the obvious size, they have 3 right shots, and three lefties, and, they all play on their correct sides too.

    BTW, SB should consult us. After all, if there's no audience, he doesn't have a show, does he? My zen koan for the day!

  • No, I'm a Kings fan through winning the cup before we start our wailing and gnashing of teeth on this blog. I would agree Sutter is more aggressive, but it's not like they moved from trap to 100 foot stretch passes. There is still a very defensive feel to what LA does, hence the Devils looking completely frustrated last night. He has uncuffed players like Kopitar though, that is for damn sure.

    What I'm happiest about in this is that it's a rejection of building your team to be the exact opposite of what fans want to see. I saw Costa interview Torts and he surprisingly was pretty blunt in asking Torts about employing a strategy that fans don't like. Tort's response was actually pretty open and he admitted that he can see why fans don't like it. However, and I'm sure PHX fans feel the same way, it works. Or at least it worked until he got his team to the ECF. LA has what recent cup teams have had, skill, size/grit and depth. I just pray that this continues to be the model that wins cups rather then what teams like PHX do.

  • It seems to me that the Kings opened up their game after Sutter came in. Before that, they were playing a strictly defensive game and having now cohesion among their forwards. The pieces were there, but most of their success was coming from their goaltender.

    Sutter comes in, mixed with a couple trades, and tells the team to start focusing more on defense. So, the goaltender is set, the defense is tough, and now the forwards are allowed to score goals. I agree with FF's comment, and think this was a perfect topic of conversation Vegas.

    LA couldn't find success until they focused on offense. Sure, the defense is still very strong, and they protect an already amazing goalie very well, but they opened up offensively to start winning games.

    Much like I have said the Hawks could do, the Kings win a lot of games in the neutral zone. They work a great breakout between their D-men, and it is all about making the other team force the issue offensively.

    PHX might win a few games, or a series, but they could not go this far playing pure defense and relying only on their goaltender.

    I think the NHL wants to move teams away from the Trap-Defense only game, and I also think teams will overcome this eventually anyway.

    In other news (or related, I guess), I heard rumors that the Hawks are speaking with Mikka Kiprusoff.

  • In reply to Hostile Hawk:

    HH, where did you hear that? Isn't he still under contract with the Flames? Would have to be a trade if they want him.

  • The Kings are like an amoeba or school of fish, they move together as a pack. From down low, through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone. I would say though, that their success offensively has much to do with how defensively tight they are. Every forward is responsible defensively. Kopitar may take a gamble ripping up ice, but he is going to bang people all the way back. He's got size, but you don't need to lay people out with hits to be effective. I think he plays more like Hossa with puck stripping skills. There is a lot you hope Q is paying attention to here. But like I said, I'll save that for after the cup is done, which hopefully is tonight.

  • In reply to VegasHawksFan:

    So, what you're saying is they don't fly the D zone before they have complete possession of the puck. They usually break out through the middle of the ice because the Devils are taking away the walls. I agree. They also are hard on the puck and they dump and chase and retrieve as good as I've seen. Why, because they have the size to win the battles. Sutter's coaching is predicated on a hard forecheck. Usually 2 men in. He learned under Mike Keenan who employed the exact same philosophy. Watch the forecheck tonight and watch the breakout.

    None of this flies with the 'hawks as currently constructed. They just don't have the bodies to execute this type of play. Too bad because if you look at the last three cup winners that's what it takes.

  • In reply to VegasHawksFan:

    Sorry, I was chuckling at you use of the word Amoeba. I know what you're getting at but, the Wiki definition is: It is a shapeless unicellular organism.

    Sounds like the 'hawks' system, doesn't it?

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    LOL, well, I was referring the unicellular part. You did, however, pick up on exactly what I was saying, nobody flies the zone. Going back to those links you posted awhile back on Scotty Bowman, it appears he is also of the mind to create the "fly the zone" stretch pass. In the cup year, I would not say the Hawks were a particularly punishing team. However, the mix of players they had worked very well with the stretch pass and zone flying. They could move the puck very quickly from low to high and out. To some degree, I think they were quicker then most teams forecheckers.

    Going back to the amoeba and the Hawks, shapelessness seems accurate, unicellular doesn't though. One way I look at it is that where one of Q's big breakdowns occurs is that he does not demand the same of all his players. Rookies and lower line players get sat when he is dissatisfied with them and veteran players get more and more ice time whether they screw up or not.

    Early on last night, I thought there was a change in what NJ did. Whereas they have previously attacked from the get go, they seemed to dictate to LA that if they wanted it, they would have to come and get it. To LA's part, I think they wanted to do what they have done so far which is let NJ punch themselves out and then start delivering blows of their own. After NJ scored the first goal, I was really hoping that LA would switch into a nothing to lose mode and they never really did. Hopefully they pull off another road win.

    BTW, Cunneyworth and Ladouceur let go. Any chance we see one of those two here?

  • In reply to VegasHawksFan:

    I knew that's what you were referring to. Just jousting!

    I think SBsr is in favor of that style of play because the red line or two line pass is now acceptable since the rule changes out of the last lock-out. What this does in my opinion is negates the line rushes we're seeing the Kings employ—when they're not dumping and chasing. They don't always do it, but I've noticed a helluva lot more attack-like rushes in these playoffs. This goes back to unicellular.

    Conversely, the stretch pass isolates a player at center ice and he's left to make the play or wait for his line mates to catch up. This is a frequent occurrence with the 'hawks. That and the D to D pass, a fake rush and the drop pass to (usually) Kane and then they expect him to gain the zone with his speed. This method usually leaves the wingers flat-footed as they are stuck in neutral at the opposing blueline while the defenders line dance across it. Neither works against a well-coached team.

    As for Q, he's "his own coach" according to Scotty in one of those links. In other words, a stubborn SOB. Not likely to see much change in the way he handles the players. He likes his vets. With all the grumbling after their playoff exit and the purported additional "power" Q has, I have to wonder why we're getting more of the same from SBjr. I'm also reading that the firing of Haviland was not popular among the players.

    As for Ladoucer and Cunneyworth. Don't know. I like what RC did with the habs last year under difficult circumstances, so I wouldn't mind that. Q may be waiting on his best bud, Marc Crawford, to finish applying for head coaching positions. I'm sure he's on the list for Edmonton. There's also talk of a successful coach from the AHL moving up. I don't know. As long as Q is still here, I can't see much changing, no matter who gets hired.

  • In reply to VegasHawksFan:

    One other thing. Both TSN, this past week, and Sportsnet, a couple of weeks back, have both said that Q was the first choice for HC in Montreal. The 'hawks refused to give him his release and hence the negotiations by Q to gain more control of the players he has on the roster. Makes sense to me. Drat!

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