The fourth round of open forum questions and answers. One more to go…
Question: I read an article in the LA Times suggesting that DL has been informed by the ownership that they would like to see him make a move for an impact player. I don’t know if you read the article…but what are your thoughts on this? Obviously we’d all like to see more talent on the team, but knowing the trend, its hard to believe the article. Any input on this?
Answer: You’re going to have to link to the article in question, because the one published today gave no indication, at all, that ownership wanted Lombardi to do anything. In a recent interview, Leiweke said Lombardi would be able to make a major acquisition if he felt it would help the team…then he quickly backtracked a bit.
Question: Are there any measures being taken to improve the condition of the ice? Out of the 30 ice surfaces, where do we rank? Are the ice girls doing a good job IYO? Do you like my nickname for The Iceberg?
Answer: To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure what has sparked the newfound fascination with the poor ice at Staples. It’s always been bad, since the arena opened, and there haven’t been any more player complaints about it this year than there were last year or the year before. The ice girls are there only to scoop the accumulated shavings from around the net and boards, so they don’t really impact the quality of the ice itself. “Iceberg” is a solid nickname. My only beef would be that an iceberg is sort of big and slow-moving, while Ersberg and small and quick. But I see where you’re going with that. Not bad!
Question: Do you know if Lombardi is aware of the horrible ice conditions at staples? If he is, does he (or heck, you might know) know why the ice is so bad? Is it just cuz we live in a warmer climate, or is there something Deano can do to make it better? Is it something they are even looking into?
Answer: This one is way, way above Lombardi’s head. It would be an issue for Staples Center staff, not Kings staff, since they’re the ones who are in charge of maintaining the arena. It’s both a weather issue and a usage issue. Between the Kings, Lakers, Clippers, concerts and everything else, Staples is in almost-constant use, and that doesn’t help the ice either. From what I understand, Anaheim has had similar problems for years, although their ice quality has apparently improved in the last year or so.
Question: Rich – our 5-3 pp have been so poor lately – I have my thoughts on why – what are yours?
Answer: I’m not sure how to answer that one. In general, it’s sort of a minor miracle when the other team doesn’t score in a 5-on-3 situation. The fact that the Kings killed the first few they faced this season was rather extraordinary. To be successful down two guys, you have to have extraordinary discipline and a lot of luck.
Question: Is there possibly something “wrong” with Kopitar? He does not look as slick and smooth as he has before this season. He shot a puck way wide of an open net the other day, and he does not seem to “fool” the defense with his skating ability as he has in the past. Granted, opponents know by now they need to shut him down to beat the Kings – but that never stopped other highly skilled players from continuing to put up big (and bigger) numbers every year. Is there perhaps an injury there that the Kings don’t talk about?
Answer: There’s definitely something different in his game. It might be physical, although there’s absolutely no indication that it is, because he has yet to miss even a practice. Or it might be, for lack of a better term, mental. A popular theory last season was that Lubomir Visnovsky put too much pressure on himself, after signing a big contract extension and being named an alternate captain. Well, Kopitar is in the exact same situation right now. He’s so mature, as a person, that it seems unlikely he would be struggling mentally, but you just never know. He’s definitely facing more pressure and tougher defenders this season, but I agree that he doesn’t seem to have the same burst and dynamic play that he showed over the previous two seasons.
Question: Do the Kings participate in any team building events or plan to do so in their near future?
Answer: You mean other than the ping-pong wars? They were all invited to attend a Lakers game a couple weekends ago, as a group, but I’m not certain if the entire team went or not. Team-building activities tend to happen during long road trips, and the Kings really haven’t had any yet, so there haven’t been any other activities that I’m aware of.
Question: Who do you think is playing the best hockey for the Kings right now? If you could make the offensive lines, how would they look? Do you think the Kings can make the playoffs this year?
Answer: 1) Wow, good question. A week ago, I probably would have said Drew Doughty. Now, I’m tempted to say Kyle Quincey, because his play this season has exceeded expecations by leaps and bounds. Dustin Brown is there as well, but it’s been tougher than expected for him because Kopitar seems to be struggling and the Kings can’t seem to put the correct left wing in place there. 2) Funny you should mention that, as I just drew up my suggested lines for someone at practice yesterday. I would try: Kopitar centering Frolov and Brown, Handzus centering O’Sullivan and Moller, Stoll centering Richardson and Simmonds, Armstrong centering Calder and Ivanans. That’s given what the Kings have on the roster at the moment. 3) Can they? Sure. Is it likely? Probably not. When December ends, the easy part of the schedule will be finished. The second half is very road-heavy and it will be a challenge for this young team.
Question: Is Heidi Androl the 2nd coming of Lisa Guerrero?
Answer: For several reasons, I can happily say no, I don’t think so…
Question: WHY isn’t O’Sullivan even considered as first line material? I don’t get it. Nobody gets it. Is it about talent? WHAT is the reason? It sure sounds like they’ve completely ruled him out. WHY? WHY? WHY? I want a reason. A real reason. A specific answer. Not an “oh he’s not there yet” kind of answer, but a REAL answer. Are you avoiding the question, Rich? Because it sure seems like you are.
Answer: It’s a bit tough to avoid a question that a) gets asked roughly every seven minutes and b) I answer every time it is asked. O’Sullivan has had two different stints this season as the first-line left wing. But again, to review, in Murray’s view he wasn’t there initially because he missed camp and Murray didn’t get a good look at his game. Then he got bumped off that line because they weren’t happy with his play at both ends. That’s what they’ve said, so that’s what I know. I don’t make the decisions about lines, last time I checked…