Time for a Closed Door Meeting
The Kings season drifts further away in their seventh straight loss. Brown’s shoulder injury is sidelining more than the Kings’ most consistent forward. His absence also removes the most physical component of the Kings. To add insult to injury, Cammalleri’s attempt at a spark when he defends Kopitar against a Zanon move results in a power play against and the loss of Cammalleri to what is being described as a ‘rib injury’.
His absence resulted in even more line juggling than usual from Crawford – one of the most typical complaints against the troubled coach. Through the first and second, Frolov earned his way onto multiple double shifts. By the end of the game, Blake played the third as right wing on the first line with O’Sullivan and Kopitar.
One of the toughest parts to take of these losses is that there are so many ways the Kings find to lose games. The Wings essentially suffocated the life out of them. The referees helped facilitate the loss against the Blue Jackets. Both Columbus and Nashville came to the game fragile on losing streaks that the Kings helped turn into a win for their opponents. *ugh*
Before the latest defeat, a closed door meeting was held for one of Saturday’s game participants, where the following quotes made it to press:
• “It's been a rough go.”
• "We've got to start showing more accountability with each other because right now it's snowballing and getting worse. We've got to stick together.''
• "Now it's in the back of our mind that we're not scoring a lot of goals.''
• "It's always difficult to keep your confidence when you're not winning.''
• "But it is imperative to do your best and bring a positive attitude, or you'll never get out of it. If you sulk and complain about the things you don't have, or that aren't going your way, then you're going to remain in the slump.''
The problem with these quotes is that they came from the other team. The full article from the Tennessean can be read here:
This is the second time this season the Kings faced an opponent on their own losing streak where before the game against the Kings, a closed door meeting was held with pretty successful results. First Phoenix did it and now Nashville followed the same plan with a similar outcome.
This particular loss hurt because it showed some of the Kings’ weaknesses on display. Despite the fact the Predators took more than one icing call, Los Angeles couldn’t win an offensive zone face-off to save their lives. Particularly weak were the usual culprits, O’Sullivan and Handzus. After the 1st, Handzus lost every face-off he took in four efforts. By the end of the second, that got a bit better when he had 2 wins to go with his 3 losses for a total stat of 2 for 7. He ended the night 5 for 11.
O’Sullivan was 2 for 7 at the end of two but won both tries in the 3rd ending his night with statistics of 4 for 7. Armstrong was particularly strong in the circle winning every face-off in the first and ending the night 10-5.
The game definitely had its chippy moments considering both teams needed a win badly. The first evidence came when Greg Zanon took liberties with Kopitar and Cammalleri took issue which resulted in a power play against and the loss of Cammalleri for the night at least.
I take no issue and frankly applaud when the players stand up for each other. Just as Sidney Crosby’s first bout has many taking notice, it also continues the debate after the long term implications it has for Cammalleri.
Do teams and fans really want their best offensive players fighting; or, is this particular type of gesture more appropriate for the players teams can most afford to lose in the penalty box or on the sidelines?
As to the Kings, I choose the latter as I still cannot wrap my head around why the 5’9” player is sticking for the 6’4” one. There is no question I would rather see Cammalleri on the IR then Kopitar as the #11 is far more valuable than #13 if I even have to make that choice. But, it begs the question, was this the smartest play for either of them to take?
I am thinking no. However, this choice of Cammalleri brings up another Kings’ team weakness and that is toughness and physical play. Generally speaking, Los Angeles plays a dump and chase game for puck possession. With Brown there, he has the physical game to regain the puck and make something happen. At a minimum, the puck stays in the opponents’ end far more than it did on Saturday.
The only other consistently physical player is Zeiler and he has been far less of a presence as of late. If he his not bringing energy, then what is he doing here anyway? Apparently, Crawford feels the same way because he saw no ice in the third and ended the game with scant minutes of 6:04 and a meager 2 hits to his credit.
I truly applaud the bit of creativity Crawford showed having Blake play as forward on the on the top line with O’Sullivan and Kopitar. He brought the edge the team so direly misses as Brown’s shoulder heals. It is almost as if Crawford was clairvoyant since the Kings dressed 7 defensemen for the game. Who knew that was a Crawford skill anyway?
My final game take is that Crawford needs to pick another tack for his players. If the team is playing partially injured (Calder and Stuart), and their most physical player is sidelined (the one that made his system work when it did), it is time to consider a puck possession game.
I remember reading a quote once between Iginla and Conroy right after Conroy’s first trade to Calgary. Conroy played a solely defensive role with the Blues prior to his trade. He jumped up to the first line with the Flames but played the same style, dump and chase. Iginla responded with something to the effect of, ‘Hey dude, we are the first line, hold on to the puck and do something with it!’
To be fair, I am paraphrasing something I read many years ago. The meaning still has legs. With the Kings becoming more of a skilled team, why on earth are they still playing a style more suited for a less talented squad? Frolov’s double shifting shows he is ready to go 200% and he is so darn hard to take off the puck, why not have him hog it from here till eternity?
Some fans consider O’Sullivan a puck hog. If he is or isn’t, his two goals on Saturday show him keeping possession makes far more sense than dumping it and hoping he can wrestle his way back to the puck.
I now implore Crawford to go back to the drawing board and consider a team game that far more reflects the players he has. This team is beginning to become the speed and size team he described in a CBS interview right after his hire.
As a result, please for the love of all things good, design an approach more suited to whom is here and whom are healthy... Now! As to the players, kick out the largest coaching staff in the NHL, and talk amongst yourselves as to what each player can do individually to work as a single unit with far different results. This is working for your opponents against each of you, time to turn the tables... Now!
Join The Hockey Chicks tonight at 9ET/6PT.
(Men welcome too!)
Tonight's podcast includes myself and Julie Robenhymer from Hockey Buzz
On the agenda...
Muckers, Rockstars and Weekly Kudos...feel free to nominate
The increasing incidence of a team's best players dropping the gloves (Does anyone agree/disagree with Cammalleri dropping the gloves and going out with an injury... great teammate or not so smart play?)
How would you market the NHL?
The Ice Bowl
Holiday wishes for your team
Join us tonight for the second episode of The Hockey Chicks...
Talkcast ID# 10532
For those who missed it live, check it out here to listen or download:
Hope to hear from Kings’ fans!!