Key to the season?

It was only last week when we discussed here whether Teddy Purcell might end up being the key to the Kings’ season. If anything, that feeling has only become stronger. As the Kings’ second-line left wing, Purcell not only needs to show that he can be a consistent NHL player but that he can score enough to justify second-line minutes and play physical enough to satisfy his coaches and general manager. It’s a lot to ask — particularly of someone who has played only 50 NHL games — so I asked Terry Murray if it was safe to say that Purcell’s play was a key to the season…

MURRAY: “To me, he’s right at the top of the list. Maybe not the very top, but he’s certainly a priority for us, to have Teddy Purcell play well and play an important role for our hockey club. He’s a very gifted guy. He’s got incredible skill and playmaking ability. We’ve discussed this before; that’s where I see him, on the left side where he can be a real good playmaker with Stoll and Brownie. I know that those two guys are going to work hard for him also, and find him opportunities to be the shooter. He’s a guy who can finish pretty well.

“He has adjusted well to the left side. I think his play has been pretty good from the start of the training camp. In one of the (preseason) games, I thought he was the best player on the ice for both teams. He was just playing tremendous hockey, playing very competitively and doing the things we talked about many times last year, as far as board play. It’s a courageous thing that you have to do sometimes, when you’re playing along the boards, and that’s where I will keep going at Teddy. He’s got to give us that same kind of look in every game that he plays.”

The question is, do you think he can do it?

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  • Irish Pat

    I’m definitely guilty of being one of the Teddy Purcell haters on this site in large part because I just did not see what Lombardi saw in this guy to project him as a top 6 forward. His play was lackluster, to put it mildly, and I figured he was a bust. I still have yet to see him play, but I am looking forward to October 3rd. I’m glad the coaches and fans are high on him. If he succeeds I will gladly eat my words with a huge slice of humble pie. I have however defended Jack Johnson in the past from a bunch of haters and if I have to eat my words about Purcell I’m also hoping they will have to eat their words about Jack.

  • wavesinair

    I can’t wait to see this guy play! Wait, who? Purcell? Oh, never mind. Faaarr from THE key in my book.

  • TeamHasHoles

    Actually, I don’t think the question is “Can” he… it’s more “Will” he and I think the Kings have finally found a way to give this guy the clear message he’s needed, but also put him in the position he needed to be in to succeed.

    DL can yap about players needing to be better all the livelong day, but if he and TM aren’t putting them in situations that foster success, they won’t be successful. Team Management 101 really.

  • bickle Wigglesworth III

    i don’t see Purcell doing it, but it would be nice to be wrong.

  • darko25o

    I’m hoping for the best when it comes to Purcell, I think he’ll be a great talent, but he’s not the key because if his play falls off, then we have frolov to move to the second line, or Moller.

  • Redlights

    Lets be real, If Teddy is a major key at LW on the second line and we have a LW on the third line that we know is good for 30+ goals, TM should switch them. If it needs to be adjusted because of Frolov, then cross that bridge we get to it. No slam against TP but we all know who should be there.

  • Matt R

    In my opinion the keys to the season are goaltending, Kopitar and continued steady improvement.

    If Quick can build on last season, that will satisfy goaltending and be a part of the improvement. Or if Bernier comes in and takes over the #1 spot, that works too.

    Kopitar needs to perform like a $6 million plus player which will be helped by some added talent on his wings. We need to see 80 points minimum from him. Then, if a lot of the other players can show some quality improvement, we’ll be in good shape.

    In the area of “continued steady improvement”, we need a number of young players to build on last season and a couple of veterans to bounce back. Doughty, Quick, Johnson and Simmonds are key here. I included Simmonds because I think he is capable of scoring 20+ goals (and I think he will). Williams, and to a lesser extent, Smyth, need to re-emerge as the players they are capable of being. Frolov needs to take his game to the next level (or I think he’s gone before the season is out).

    As far as Purcell potentially being the key to this season, I think that will only be true if he performs the way DL and TM think him capable of. Of course, the same can be said of almost anyone on the team. If Shenn ends up playing all year, people might be saying “Shenn was the key to the season for the Kings” 8 months from now. If Simmonds gets 25-35-60, people will say he was the key. There are a million situations like that.

    In short, if everyone builds on last season and no one takes a step backwards, I think we’re playoff bound. The number of players that have bad seasons/get (re)injured /go through the sophmore slump will determine how far in the standing we fall.

  • variable

    frolov…once again…is accommodating the team’s (d.l./t.m.’s) desire to push teddy and to give him the best opportunity for him to succeed…i really hope it works because i would rather see fro in this position…i still think teddy will play about 14 mins a game…maybe as much as 16 early on…so there should be some time for t.m. to mix things up if things don’t work out…and in t.m.’s case, if teddy doesn’t get it going by the 8 minute-mark of the first, he will be shifted…

    so he’s more of a key indicator than ‘the key’…
    teddy could be somewhat of a catalyst for fro’s future…

  • darko25o

    …and yes, I think he can do it

  • Matt George

    Tomorrow nights game is going to be a key indicator for me.

    Pretty much EVERY media outlet that tries to rate NHL teams has the Kings MISSING the playoffs this year.

    Is this an underestimation on their part or are we missing something?

    I’m hoping they just haven’t been paying attention.

  • EASportsMgt

    It seems like you talk about TP being on the second line there is a lot of talk about Fro not being there. And I agree that is a top six 6 forward as the Kings top goal scorer. But it is obvious that Fro meshes better with Zues and Simms, so do you replace the entire seecond line to get Fro on the second line, and demote Brownie and Stoll? Or do you play Fro, Stoll and Brownie longer and see if they can spark something there?

  • Matt R

    Regardng Fro: A question you might ask is “what do you do with a second line player that doesn’t have any chemistry with any of the other second line player?” The answer is that you either trade him or trade for other players to play with him. You can’t force chemistry between people. It’s either there or it isn’t.

    That being said, I’m still intrigued by the 3rd line TM is cooking up. That could be the most offensively potent 3rd line in the league, and a darn good shutdown line.

  • blugator

    It seems to me, in looking at our projected #1, #2, & #3 lines, that what we really have is three #2 lines. Hopefully, AK will become the superstar we all are looking for and that line can become a #1 line. Hopefully, TP can be a reliable steady contibutor and that line can become a #1 line. And, hopefully, AF can gel with Zeus & Simmonds and that line can become a #1 line. Heck, if any one of those hopes come to pass, we will be OK. Personally, I think we are going to surprise a lot of teams this year.

  • variable

    guys…

    i like the fact that zus & simmer have chemistry w/fro…
    but fro seems to have played well with almost everyone…there was a time during the final 6-7 games in which fro & kopi skated together and i thought they were dangerous and productive…

    i know i’ve said this before but what will be interesting to see this season is whether or not t.m. will continue his trend of constantly changing things up rather early in a game…

    in those situations, fro was the one often double-shifted late in the game and in crunch time…so the question this season…or perhaps another key indicator…would be whether that trend continues…

    you have to figure kopi & jw for 20+…smyth, brown and stoll for about 18…zus will prob get about 16-18…teddy i have slotted from anywhere between 12-16 mins…his performance will predicate further responsibilities and playing time…

    and that brings us to another ‘key indicator’ amogst the offense…: how much time will there be for for and simmer…?

    i think this is actually a bigger question…if simmer continues to do the things he’s been doing to start the season, how can you not reward the guy…? fro, in essence, is really playing, not only for a new contract, but for those extra 3-4 mins per game…so it’s vital for fro to get off to a fast start and bring it every day…

    and a note re: fro & his efforts…:

    i think the question you have to wrestle with is that when fro is quiet or his play comes up for scrutiny, is it because a.) he’s taking a night off or b.) he’s having an off-night…

    i think maybe two of my biggest frolov issues are the following…:
    - the occasional soft pass that leads to a turnover…
    - shooting more…he’s a career 15% shooter, including last year’s career-high of 18.2%…

    you put this all together and this the ideal situation for a perfect storm…: player trying to over-achieve for playing time and contracts…

    my concern is still how t.m. will utilize what he has and when…and if he has the ability to show some patience with a combo if the effort is there…

  • bickle Wigglesworth III

    Second line. Third line. It’s just a title, just a name. If Simmonds improves offensively even the slightest the “third line” will be just as good as the “second line” (which, unlike previous years, will be pretty good). And accordingly I’d imagine both lines will have similar even-strength-minutes totals. That probably means Stoll’s line plays less than a typical second line, and Handzus’ line plays more than a typical third line. I’m ok with that.

    So really whether it’s second or third line isn’t important. The bigger concern will be the PP time, that’s the really valuable stuff and that’s when Frolov really needs to be getting more time than Purcell.

  • Sebastian22

    Teddy Purcell is an extremely talented player with a lot of potential. He was given a good chance last year and did well, but not good enough. This pre-season he has been excellent and he is ONE of the keys to the season. He must improve and be consistent every game. Is he the #1 key to the Kings having a good season, no. The #1 key is Jonathan Quick. Will he be able to keep up and improve his good play from last year. The #2 question is Justin Williams. He came off an injury and played some games last year but did nothing. Will he be able to put up the numbers that a #1 center needs to put up?

  • Isaac

    I hope we can roll three lines and keep Ivanas and co on the bench.

  • BakoCAcameraGuy

    Let’s see…

    Looking at the 2008-9 season first 22 games:

    First 22 games:
    10 wins/ 9 reg losses/ 3 OT-SO losses

    6 goals- 1/1 win, 0 reg, 0 ot
    5 goals- 3/3 wins, 0 reg, 0 ot
    4 goals- 3/2 wins, 1 reg, 0 ot
    3 goals- 6/3 wins, 1 reg, 2 ot
    2 goals- 3/1 win, 2 reg, 0 ot
    1 goal- 2/0 wins, 2 reg, 0 ot
    0 goals- 4/0 wins, 3 reg, 1 ot

    I was actually surprised by these results. It seemed as though the Kings hardly scores any goals, and when they couldn’t, they lost.

    That part is true; 9 games of 22 where they scored less than 3 goals, they went 1-7-1, with FOUR shutouts (TWO to the Ducks, one each to SJ and VAN).

    Looking at the stats the things that jump out:

    1): The Kings were great with leads (6-1-0 if four or more goals scored);

    2): The Kings were good at three goals (3-1-2), a good sign for a defensive team.

    3): The Kings were fair out of the gate (10-9-3).

    Keys to the season: Decreasing the number of games the Kings are shutout, giving themselves a chance to win (seems obvious, doesn’t it?) If they can decrease the number of games under 3 goals scored WHILE NOT LOSING MORE HIGH-SCORING GAMES, there will be significant improvement in the standings.

  • jet

    I would say TP is the third key, although I understand why TM could say it is at the top of the list. If TP preforms, this could cover for the first two keys. If I am the coach of a team coming into staples, I would feel tremendous pressure to put together a game plan to defend the Kings. Where do I hide my weak defenders? Let’s say I have a pure sniper that likes to hang out at the blue line and never drops back into the D zone, so I sit him for this game? Whick line do I put him out against? If I have a small center, which line do I put him out against? Count on Staples being out of Tums if Purcell is effective.

    OUr team is fast, big and skilled with some experience we will impossible to write a game plan against.

  • JT Snow

    Teddy is not the key, however, he will prove all the haters wrong.
    The key to us having a great season is Justin Williams.
    We are bound to have a good season but “great” depends on him.
    I have a feeling that one of either Quick or Bernier will not be a king by season’s end.
    Teddy will get 20+ goals

  • jet

    Badnight, not sure how I overwrote my opening.

    I believe the primary key is Quick. AS I mentioned in March, his GAs over a full season would be 200. This is playoff hockey range. If Quick comes out in 08-09 form then the skaters can go full bore to the O-zone. If he gives up some easy ones then the skaters will hesitate and so will our attack. This could easily turn into one of Quisp chicken or egg posts. Let me put the onus on Quick. Quick’s start is the team’s start.

    The second key is injuries. Last season we were fairly healthy. We do have depth, probably more depth than we have ever had, but our depth does not have much experience yet. Let’s keep a little extra muscle on the team and keep the skill players healthy.

  • Timmay

    I keep thinking to myself…why is it no one seems to see what talent the kings have and that this is a team that CAN make the playoffs. The only answer I have that an analyst would look at is consistancy. THATS IT…Wuick was great last year, but he did have some bad games *cough, phoenix, cough*** can he be consistant for 62-70 games? we know Smyth will give all hes got and same for williams but injuries? same thing we were bitching about with gaborik(sp).
    I saw this team last year look like a playoff team, crisp passing, knowing where to put the puck on every shift, like they knew each other. Then the next game look like a bunch of drunks on skates fighting for a sandwich. It’s ALL ABOUT can they get it together for a whole season…I think Teddy will work. Without a doubt his stats at the end of the year will prove it, same with Williams and most everyone else…but will it be we kill people by four one game and shutout the next??? or can we maintain and pace and keep the same intensity for a whole 82 games? the professional analysts say no, and i’m inclined to agree. This teams young and learned a lot last season, they’l learn even more this year.
    ps…I think Kopi has a breakout year.

  • nykingfan

    Purcell is a big key to the success of the Kings this year.
    For now Fro is cemented on the checking line w/Zeus and Simmer….
    This has the potential to be the best checking line in hockey…Fro will continue to get PP time as well as PK time..If he plays to his potenetial, his value to the Kings is sky high playing on the checking line…If it doesn’t work, TM will switch the lines up. We can’t afford to give guys X number of games to get going. Every game is going to be huge for us to make the playoffs. If it’s not working..change it quickly!

    If Purcell has a big year on the left side of the 2nd line, the Kings have the potential to have one of the strongest top 9 forwards in the league.

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