The NHL is a copycat league. Once a few teams enjoyed success mining the AHL for head coaching talent, the herd followed to an almost comical degree. So even though it’s ludicrously unfair to ask this question, I cannot help but blurt it out anyway: do the Los Angeles Kings need a St. Louis Blues-style wake-up call?
Los Angeles Times beat writer Helene Elliott spoke of the possibility of a “jolt” coming on the heels of the Kings’ 4-2 loss to the surging San Jose Sharks. The thing is, GM Dean Lombardi doesn’t have a whole lot of obvious players to trade, unless he would opt to deal from his significant treasure chest of defensive prospects.
With that in mind, I cannot help but wonder if head coach Terry Murray will be the unfair scapegoat much like Davis Payne was in St. Louis. Let’s look at some of the factors that could justify the move – some of which might seem oddly similar to the Blues’ issues.
- A mediocre record: The Blues fired Payne at 6-7-0 while the Kings are 6-5-3. Los Angeles is on a five-game losing streak in which they’ve generated just two points. That’s a scary trend in a brutal Western Conference and a cutthroat Pacific Division.
- Limp offense: Murray’s Kings are scoring just 2.14 goals per game, the third worst total in the league. Some grimace that former Kings prospects such as Brian Boyle and Teddy Purcell’s offensive games have taken off once they left Los Angeles, too.
- A big batch of home games: The Blues will roll out the red carpet for Hitchcock with five games in St. Louis while the Kings’ next four games will come at home.
- Heightened expectations: While the Blues carry playoff aspirations, many (including certain PHT staffers) believed the Kings have the potential to go to the Stanley Cup finals.
Murray is a good coach who helped the Kings go from an unshaped mass to a playoff contender, but some might believe that they need a new voice to get that extra boost to the elite level.
Hopefully cooler heads will prevail, but there are enough similarities that the situation isn’t outside the realm of possibility. What would you do if you were in Lombardi’s situation?
After establishing himself in the Swedish league, Anton Lindholm will head to North America.
The Colorado Avalanche announced that they have signed the 21-year-old defenseman to a three-year, entry-level contract. They selected Lindholm in the fifth round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
More of a defensive defenseman, Lindholm only registered four assists in 30 Swedish league games with Skelleftea AIK in 2015-16, but he also had a team-high 85 hits despite missing a chunk of the season due to injury. During the playoffs he helped his team reach the SHL Finals by leading them in both hits and blocked shots.
That was his second full campaign with Skelleftea AIK. The next step for Lindholm will likely be for him to continue his development in the AHL.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Bob McKenzie shares his memories of Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie, who apparently was a big hockey fan. (TSN)
Don Cherry discusses John Brophy’s toughness after the former Leafs coach recently passed away. (Sportsnet)
A look at Vincent Lecavalier‘s career. (Greatest Hockey Legends)
The perils of flip-flopping goalies in the playoffs … although it worked out for the Penguins at least last night. (The Hockey News)
Speaking of which, will the Blues get burned for switching back to Brian Elliott in Game 6 tonight? Here’s a preview:
Sidney Crosby has a chance to join a very rare club of clutch goal-scorers if he can win it for Pittsburgh in Game 7:
Hot take: the Pittsburgh Penguins probably won’t deal with a goalie controversy going into Game 7.
(Ugh, that’s a failed hot take … you can’t use “probably” in those things, right?)
Matt Murray was fantastic at times during Game 6, much like his counterpart in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net in a 5-2 win. Granted, there were some tense moments during the Bolts’ late-game push:
Much has been made about experience, especially from those calling for Marc-Andre Fleury earlier in this series. It’s telling that the praise Murray draws sure sounds like what you’d expect from a “veteran.”
“He has a calming influence,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That’s usually an attribute that usually takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive.”
Thanks in part to Murray’s efforts in Game 6, he’ll get a chance to prove his resolve in something new: a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final.
Once again, his teammates seem pretty confident in this elimination situation.
The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.
On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.
It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.
Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.
Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.
Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.
Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.
Read more about Game 6 here.