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Los Angeles Kings

It’s safe to say that for many SNES players, the Los Angeles Kings are easily among the sentimental favorite teams to use for a variety of reasons. Whether that reason is nostalgia, high end skill, destroying opponents with Marty McSorley, mimicking Fenty’s antics, etc., rarely are there ever any instances of the Kings not being used by at least a semi notable coach in any SNES classic league. Thankfully, the Kings of the early 90s possessed an abundance of top end talent at nearly every position that make this team an absolute joy to use and win with in NHL 94.

Forwards

(Minus) The Great One?

Robitaille-Carson-Sandstrom

Any time I ever describe SNES NHL 94 to someone in real life who has never played, the usual reaction is, “oh Gretzky must have been absolutely dominant in that game!” Unfortunately enough, this exclamation, while understandable, is far from the truth. Though Wayne Gretzky by no means handicaps the Kings, the main argument for not deploying #99 in the starting lineup is due to his mere 172 lb. weight and weak shot ratings that don’t benefit the Kings offense at all. I find it to be a real shame that the greatest NHL player and goal scorer of all time got the shaft when it came to arguably the most important ratings, but I suppose that’s a rant in itself for another day. One thing that is true though about Wayne Gretzky is that he’s a great option off the bench to be used at either Wing in the event of an injury or if a coach simply wants to change the look and feel of the Kings offense. It goes without saying that there’s still plenty of plus skating, deking ability, strong positional play, and reliability to be had from #99 in the lineup and so you certainly can’t fault any coach who still wishes to use him depending on the situation.

Luc Robitaille is one of only a handful of players in NHL 94 to possess 100 shot accuracy and this fact alone makes for a strong argument to put him at Center where he can unleash deadly accurate one timers and single-handedly take over a game. In fact, I can’t even say that I don’t recommend this as the results don’t lie, both in mine and other coaches past experiences. It’s also very helpful that #20 possesses good skating abilities which absolutely make him a deking threat in most situations. Simply put, whether Luc Robitaille is used at Wing or Center, he is going to make an impact on the scoresheet and is an integral part of the Kings offense.

For Jimmy Carson, SNES NHL 94, amazingly, represents possibly the only time he would ever be considered as better than Wayne Gretzky in some capacity. As longtime hockey fans will remember in the infamous trade that originally sent Gretzky to the Kings in 1988, Carson was the centerpiece of the package that went back to the Edmonton Oilers. However, even despite being a multi-time 50 goal scorer and a very skilled player in his own right, it was quickly determined that he would never match up to the accomplishments of Gretzky and thus Carson was written off and ironically later returned to the Kings almost as an afterthought in the team’s Stanley Cup run in 1993. However, Carson is far from an afterthought on the SNES as he weighs in at a dense 212 lbs., is a pretty decent skater for a larger player, and possesses shot ratings practically equal to those of players such as Craig Simpson, Teemu Selanne, etc… It goes without saying that Carson is arguably the Kings best options at Center due to his plus shooting and skating, and his size and ability to both withstand and effectively lay down body checks.

For the Kings, the offensive riches do not end at Robitaille and Carson as there is also Tomas Sandstrom in the mix. Sandstrom plays very similarly to Carson due to weighing in at 212 lbs. and possessing good skating abilities. Like Carson, Sandstrom is also blessed with excellent shot ratings that make him one of the strongest one timing threats in the game. I sometimes believe that the true luxury in having players like Carson and Sandstrom comes from the ability to play strong two way hockey as these two players have more than enough size and speed to impose their will on most of the other players in the game and then use their great offensive abilities to light the lamp in most situations. Perhaps an even greater luxury is that these two players, along with Robitaille, can be used almost interchangeably to give opponents many different looks and make shutting down the Kings offense a real chore.

On the bench, the Kings have the likes of Tony Granato and steady Hall of Famer Jari Kurri. Granato, in particular, possesses an elusive 100 speed rating but at times is known to fumble passes which can become problematic. However, if Granato’s pass receiving is steady in a given game, his speed can absolutely make him a breakaway threat and add another layer to an already strong Kings offense. While Kurri does not possess the same top end talents as the aforementioned recommended starters, he is another great bench option who can contribute positively at both ends of the ice and will not handcuff the team much, if at all, when he’s used.

Defense

Blake-McSorley

In consideration of Marty McSorley, I remember thinking when I was younger that he was too slow to be effective and was the weakest link in the Los Angeles Kings starting lineup. This, in turn, caused me to give a lot of starts to Alexei Zhitnik in my early days of playing online. Initially, Zhitnik appears to be the better option as he has the edge over McSorley in puck control and skating which can make a big difference in games where puck control and movement are of the utmost importance. However, where the difference between the two players becomes glaringly obvious is in weight and laying the lumber on the opposition. In short, McSorley’s weight of 236 lbs. versus 180 lbs. for Zhitnik, makes a massive difference in the way that both players will make contributions to the Kings lineup. Much like in real life, Marty’s ability to destroy and dominate opposing players and change the flow of a game with a huge hit cannot be understated and gives the Kings a true physical edge over most teams when combined with the overall size of the team’s top Forwards. While I personally give McSorley the nod over Zhitnik, I don’t think a coach can be faulted for choosing increased mobility depending on play styles and preferences. While it’s true that Zhitnik is more susceptible to a big hit and won’t be unleashing as many of his own, players who prefer the ability to deke and rush with a Defenseman cannot be criticized for starting him over McSorley.

For the 2nd Defenseman, the choice is much easier. Rob Blake weighs in at 228 lbs. and possesses plenty of puck control and skating ability to make him among the most solid and steady Defensemen in the game. Whether it’s rushing the puck up the ice, strong and sound positional play, or imposing his own will over opposing players, Blake is absolutely the best Kings Defenseman and one that is hard to justify taking out of the lineup.

For bench Defensemen, the Kings have other options in Darryl Sydor and Charlie Huddy, both of whom were longtime NHL Defensemen and enjoyed solid careers. While it will generally be rare to see either player used in injury situations, both will occasionally need to enter the game in Penalty Kill situations. Though neither player will light the world on fire with high end skill, crazy offensive rushes, or game changing contributions, both Defensemen can be relied upon to play a steady game until one of the Kings top defenders is ready to return from the penalty box.

Summary

Size, speed, strength, aggression, physicality, puck movement, great shooting ability… the Los Angeles Kings literally have it all in SNES NHL 94. Perhaps the only issue with the team is knowing which players to use in which positions. However, I would say this is a great problem to have as the ability to make changes on the fly and customize the team’s lineup based on preferences and/or gut feelings makes the Kings one of best teams in the game and one that is practically always a threat to win in the hands of a skilled coach.

Edited by Oilers442
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Great writeup!

This was always the lineup I used, although some people have had success recently playing Sandstrom at center with his elite shot and Gretzky on the wing as a pure passing option. The other winger would then be either Carson or Robitaille. I know @Bob Kudelski doesn't like Robitaille and likes Carson on his off wing to set up for one timers. What do you think about that setup?

LA always struck me as a pretty deep team since Granato has a lot of skill (despite being small). I would probably play him over Kurri who is a bit mediocre, but neither would be in my starting lineup. Can't really think of anyone else I would want on the ice...

Agree about McSorley over Zhitnik and personal preference does come into it. Charlie Huddy is also a solid stay at home guy if McSorley gets hurt and you prefer someone who won't stray too far from the net.

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Great writeup! I agree the Kings are an awesome team. Size and shooting skills are top notch. Right up there with Boston and Pittsburgh in my opinion.

Like annatar says, I think Sandstrom is the best fit at center. He has that rare 85/85 shot, same as JR and ciccarelli. So if you want size and shooting at center, there aren't many better options on any team.

I also love Gretzky as a playmaker. He's so elusive with that 100 agility, stick handling and passing. Super fun to use a pure passer for Sandstrom and Carson.

Carson is also super underrated. Almost the exact same ratings as Pierre Turgeon who many consider one of the best in the game. He does have the odd game where he's really cold, and can't take a pass. Luckily, the Kings have lots of bench options.

I find Luc Robitaille is just not effective for me. He's not a great skater for his size. Plus, his shot is redundant on this team, since Sandstrom and Carson also have wicked shots, with more beef. Maybe it's crazy, but that's how I justify benching Luc. 

 

 

 

Edited by Bob Kudelski
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10 hours ago, annatar said:

Great writeup!

This was always the lineup I used, although some people have had success recently playing Sandstrom at center with his elite shot and Gretzky on the wing as a pure passing option. The other winger would then be either Carson or Robitaille. I know @Bob Kudelski doesn't like Robitaille and likes Carson on his off wing to set up for one timers. What do you think about that setup?

LA always struck me as a pretty deep team since Granato has a lot of skill (despite being small). I would probably play him over Kurri who is a bit mediocre, but neither would be in my starting lineup. Can't really think of anyone else I would want on the ice...

Agree about McSorley over Zhitnik and personal preference does come into it. Charlie Huddy is also a solid stay at home guy if McSorley gets hurt and you prefer someone who won't stray too far from the net.

Thanks buddy; I appreciate your feedback and your thoughts on the Kings lineup.

While I've honestly never used Carson on his off wing, I remember Fenty using him in that manner to great effect in the past. Carson's shot ratings are so good that having him on his off wing absolutely makes him a very dangerous one timer threat off the rush.

I think Gretzky on either wing can absolutely work but the only downside is his lighter 172 lb. weight that to me, nullifies some of the Kings physical advantage over other teams. Add to that, Gretzky's weaker shot ratings very much reduce the overall one timer threat that the team's Forwards can pose. However, Gretzky does have a certain mobility that his smaller size and good speed and agility ratings seem to give him over that of the other Forwards. He's definitely a good option for rushing the puck into the offensive zone and then trying to deke the goalie or pass off to his teammates.

Sandstrom at Center is definitely a winning option in my mind. I used him at Center in SDL 2 for the Edmonton Oilers after I took the team over 9 games into the season as I didn't feel like there were any better options that the previous coach had drafted. Sandstrom's excellent shot, good skating, and 212 lb. weight made him very effective in the role and so I can absolutely see him being similarly effective at Center in the Kings starting lineup.

That's what I love most about the LA Kings in this game: so many options and so many different Forward and Defense combos that can be created to suit practically any play style.

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I have to admit that I can't get Gretz to work for me either but I think it's a question of play style. You guys nailed it though, if you use 99 you have to take advantage of his passing and agility to generate chances. He can definitely deke, if you get close enough to the goalie to get a chance.

He's probably a good option for the shiftier type of coach who values those abilities, but I'm more point A to point B. Trying to learn to play other ways, but it's hard. :lol:

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