Wednesday, April 28, 2010

High / Low Season Review with... the Mayor

Over the past six months a myriad of hockey personalities have stopped by with their opinions on the Kings and the NHL as a whole.  Names like Luc Robitaille, Jeremy Roenick, Mike Modano, Marcel Dionne, Jim Fox and many, many more.

Today, it's my turn.  The Mayor weighs in with his thoughts on the 2009-10 Kings season.  So, here we go...


* Drew Doughty - Nearly every game Kings fans and coaches are probably pinching themselves and asking 'Is he really only 20 years old?' He was amazing as a rookie and didn't experience the dreaded sophomore slump. In fact, he got better. The Olympics were invaluable to his learning experience and the Norris Trophy nomination was the icing on the cake to a great second season for DD.

* 101 Points - Hockey experts picked this team 7th, 8th or out of the playoffs.  To cross the century mark in points was fabulous for a team that is just now starting to come together.  You can see the potential in the core group of players...the potential that Dean Lombardi has been talking about the last three seasons.  If there was any knock on the regular season, it's the loss of points that could have been.  When a team gives up a point in a game coaches like to say 'it all evens out over the course of the year'.  By my count it didn't balance out after 82 games.  The Kings gave away about four more points than they stole.  Getting just one of those points would have meant a different match up in the playoffs.  However, I know...coulda, shoulda, woulda.

Jonathan Quick - While some people want lay a large chunk of blame at the goal crease of Quick for the Kings early exit from the playoffs, this article is about the full season...a body of work if you will.  Coming into the season goaltending was what it usually is for the Kings - a big fat question mark.  Sure, Quick looked good the season before - but you're talking about a handful of games.  That's no different than people claiming Bernier is the next Roy or Brodeur.  He could be.  However, he needs to prove it at the NHL level.  For those pointing to his AHL stats, just remember...Jason LaBarbera was twice voted the AHL goalie of the year. Back to Quick though...he did what he needed to do this year - and more.  He proved he is an NHL goalie.  He was a major reason the Kings were able to reach 101 points, make the playoffs and give Vancouver a run for their money in the first round.  It also puts the Kings in a great position in net for the future...something very few people have ever typed prior to 18 months ago.


The Kids - I'm not talking about the core, I'm talking about the kids.  I'm not talking about drafting, I'm talking about development.  Beyond Doughty and Simmonds, who were here last year, what talent from within showed up at the NHL level?  Dean Lombardi has been stock piling prospects the last few years...and he's done a fine job with the talent he's acquired.  Just remember, unlike the NBA and NFL, hockey players don't usually come straight from the draft and into the big time.  Additionally, when Lombardi first arrived he said he wanted to build from the goalie out.  If you look at his top draft picks, he's done that for the most part.  Thus, he just recently started taking high end forwards - like Schenn and Clifford.  These guys weren't going to be in LA just months after being drafted in June 2009.  This season the Kings needed to see some development on the offensive side of the puck from players like Teddy Purcell, Trevor Lewis, Oscar Moller, Brad Segal and Scott Parse.  None of them showed they are capable of playing on either of the top two lines for an entire season.  That's a problem.  Lombardi cant be expected to continually trade for Ryan Smyth type players...and you can't rely on the free agent market exclusively.  At some point, somebody internally has to step up.

Alexander Frolov - Now this might look like the easy Fro-loaf bash, but it's not.  I like Frolov.  I think he's a solid player and a guy I hope they resign for next year (to a reasonable contract).  That said...for a guy in his contract year he needed to produce way more than he did.  Coming into the season I would have been fine with him posting 35-40 goals and then letting everybody say 'See, see...he can produce.  Damn shame it took him a contract year to do it.  Now can he do it on a regular basis?'  As silly as it may sound, that would have been OK.  Instead, for him to have a DOWN year in a contract year is just baffling.

Early Season Injuries - The top line of Kopitar-Smyth-Williams was one of the best in the league for the first two months of the season.  And then, POOF - it all went away.  After Smyth, then Williams, recovered from injuries they were never able to recapture their magic.  In part, this led to constant line shuffling.  The moving of pieces to compose a top line on a nightly basis also impacted the other lines as well.

On balance, the season was filled with more highs than lows.  After 8 years out of the playoffs, it sure was nice to return to the postseason.  The goaltending looks good, the core looks good, the top two defensive pairings look good.  Sure, there is work to be done in the off season.  BUT...

It's great to be a hockey fan in Los Angeles again...FINALLY!

The Mayor



Jim Fox - game one, game two, game three of the regular season
Luc Robitaille - Hall of Fame week, then near the Trade Deadline
Kelley Hrudey - Hrudey on Duty
Rob Blake - vs. the Mayor
Marcel Dionne - 1/3 of the Triple Crown can also type "High Low" into the search box near the top left corner to see other articles

FULL INTERVIEWS are available at the link near the top left corner labeled 'interviews'


  1. Highs in no particular order:

    1. Game one of the Playoffs..It's like not having sex for 8 years....I was VERY proud of Los Angeles that night.
    2. The Kopi/Smytty magic that started the first few weeks of the season.
    3. Zeus....What can you say...He was amazying to watch every night.
    4. Couldn't help it....The emergence of Doughty...THROUGHOUT THE REST OF THE LEAGUE AND CANADA. They learned what WE already knew.


    1. The after Olympic Meltdown...We never recaptured the Pre-Olympic magic with any consistancy.
    2. Game 4 of the playoffs, blowing leads 3 times.....
    3. The injury to the Kopitar/Smyth/Williams line....They never recaptured that magic that they had.

    I must say however...This season was filled with a lot more highs than lows....I'm very proud of our boys, and very proud to be an L.A. Kings fan!!!!


  2. HIGHS
    1) Emergence of Drew Doughty - to even be a finalist of the Norris this early in his career is wicked scary. His control of the game is Bourque-like and it's just going to get better.

    2) The Beginning of our SC Playoff run..? - hopefully this is the beginning of a run, a la Dean Lombardi style. Previously his Sharks had increasing point totals for six straight seasons and became better & younger at the same this the start of a long playoff seasons to come and flirt with the Cup again..?

    3) The Core Players - Kopitar, Brown, Doughty, Johnson, Simmonds & Quick. One year older & wiser, still together and getting a taste of the playoffs...and they just scratched the surface.

    1) Filling in the cracks - the 5th & 6th defensemen and the 4th line had been shuffled more than a deck of cards in Vegas and I don't think anybody trusts them on the ice eating minutes. Ivanans = 2 min. inference penalties, Jones = turnover, Halpern = zilch, O'D & Greene were a horrible pairing - no foot speed and Vancouver exploited that in the series.

    2) Quick & playing way too much - and it showed in end. Yes, he played well with his 39 wins but in the end, he looked overwhelmed and Ersberg didn't inspire any confidence in the boys. Hopefully Bernier will push Quick to play better next season.

    3) 5 on 5 scoring - the theme throughout and if our power play struggled, we might not be talking about the Vancouver series right now and wondering about our lottery pick. We need a sniper on the wing to complement Kopitar & Smyth.

  3. As for your highs:

    Drew Doughty -- No argument there, obviously.

    101 Points -- Without the loser point and the shootout points, the Kings had 90 points. "Crossing the century mark" in points is obviously not what it used to be. And as for "points that could have been", the Kings scored exactly 20 more goals than they allowed, and if anything their record was a tiny bit above what can be expected for a team with that goal differential.

    Jon Quick -- Quick was clearly a below average goalie who just happened to play a lot of games behind a good scoring team in 09-10. Funny you mention LaBarbera, as Quick's save percentage in 09-10 was .907, which was worse than LaBarbera's .910 as the Kings' starting goalie in 07-08. If you want to look at career numbers, Quick's career save percentage is .908, LaBarbera's is .906. Also, keep in mind that LaBarbera played behind worse defensive Kings' teams than did Quick. There is scarcely any difference between what the two goalies have done, other than the hype surrounding them.

    And your lows:

    The Kids -- First off, I didn't see Moller, Lewis, or Purcell get much of a shot to show what they could do, and Parse's production was more than adequate for his skill set. As for Segal, it's amazing how a guy can play for a team and start scoring for them when he gets twice the ice time he did for the team that dumped him. If the Kings want to truly develop their young players, then they need to PLAY THEM. This isn't rocket science.

    Alex Frolov -- Yawn. Perhaps if he wasn't demoted in 09-10 after being the Kings' top forward in 08-09, we might have seen more production from him, but management decided that Williams was apparently the superior player. And we saw how that worked out in the playoffs, didn't we? I'm sure Frolov's "heart" will be questioned as to why he didn't have a big season; that's the usual tired rap on Russian players ... but if you want to look at it objectively, Frolov was not put in a position to succeed scoring-wise. He was put in a checking role, and posted checking forward numbers. It's that simple.

    Injuries -- Again, yawn. Injuries happen, especially when taking on known injury risks (Williams) and players well past their prime (Smyth). It would have been more of a shock had they NOT been injured at some point during the season.