Richardson Gains From Purcell’s Struggles
Is Gann Matsuda of Frozen Royalty writing positively about Brad Richardson? That’s right, folks, the guy we all wanted on a one-way ticket to Manchester is playing some good hockey right now. Teddy Purcell, however, isn’t. Here’s the latest from Gann.
LOS ANGELES — After losing three of their first four games without veteran left wing Ryan Smyth, things looked quite bad for the still young Los Angeles Kings and their survival in the Western Conference playoff race.
During that stretch, the Kings allowed twelve goals while scoring just eight. To be sure, their defensive play, which was a major strength last season, had finally been exposed with Smyth out of the lineup.
“We’ve got to tighten up defensively,” defenseman Matt Greene said on November 22. “In this league, you’re not going to win games with the old run-and-gun—you’re not going to win championships. That’s something that needs to be addressed immediately, that commitment to defense and to taking pride in not giving up goals.”
“We just have to play with more confidence and make a commitment to defense,” Greene added. “We have to know our assignments. You have to know what you’re doing on the ice before you get out there. A lot of this game is read and react, but there’s a lot that’s structured, too, just knowing where you need to be. That’s what we have to get back to—knowing your job and doing it.”
Discipline in terms of playing within their system has also contributed to the Kings’ poor defensive coverage.
“Sometimes there are mental lapses out there,” Greene explained. “That’s what we have to eliminate so everyone’s on the same page, so you know where your partner is going to be or where you line mates are going to be. That’s how you play within your structure.”
Much of the talk since Smyth suffered the dreaded “upper body injury” that will keep him out of the lineup for 4-6 weeks has been that if the Kings can play .500 hockey until he returns, they should be in good shape for a playoff run.
But few believed they could do it.
Nevertheless, to the surprise of just about everyone, the Kings are 4-3-0 going into their December 5 matinee contest against the St. Louis Blues at Staples Center.
So far, so good.
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