The LA Kings need to make a couple of lineup changes before next Monday’s game, starting with playing Austin Strand over Kurtis MacDermid.
Whether it be Blake Lizotte playing rather than some of the top prospects in the system, Michael Amadio being chosen as the second line centerman early in the season, or Gabe Vilardi being banished to the fourth line, the LA Kings have made many questionable lineup decisions this year. None, however, is more questionable than Kurtis MacDermid continuing to receive playing time over Austin Strand.
So far in his time with the Kings, this is what MacDermid has shown: he can fight (literally) very well, and he can also dish out the occasional big hit. But the Kings have to stop kidding themselves when it comes to his overall ability.
Head coach Todd McLellan has to make an honest assessment about his third pairing defenseman and see what the rest of us are seeing, which is, the Kings are simply not as good when MacDermid is in the lineup.
When MacDermid is playing, the Kings are now 5-12-3, and he has a career-worst -10 rating. Plainly stated, the LA Kings are on their heels whenever MacDermid is on the ice. The Kings need a defenseman who can move the puck up quickly, and MacDermid has shown that he cannot do that on a consistent basis.
On the other hand, in Strand’s short stint with the Kings this year, he impressed many with his ability to complete passes up ice to spark offensive attacks, as well as his defensive awareness.
Even though he only registered one assist in seven games, the defense seemed much more structured and well-balanced when Strand was in the lineup. Some may say that he has not had enough NHL experience to really make a significant difference in the long run, but something has to change.
Strand was also recently called up to the Kings’ taxi squad with many believing that he would replace MacDermid in the lineup, but that has not happened as of yet.
Right now, the LA Kings have MacDermid playing alongside Sean Walker. This pairing does not make a lot of sense. Walker is a very active defenseman known for jumping into the offensive zone, and right now, he cannot do that as much because he is partnered with MacDermid.
MacDermid’s miscues are a liability to the Kings’ transition game since Walker is often tasked with cleaning up mistakes made in the defensive zone. Playing with Strand would give Walker much more freedom to join the offensive attack.
The organization needs to play the best players they have available, and right now, the best option for the third pairing on defense to play along with Sean Walker is Austin Strand. The Kings should make plenty of lineup changes going forward, but this one should be the most obvious, playing Strand over MacDermid.
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