Fantasy Impact: The Los Angeles Kings have fired their head coach Terry Murray. Replacing him - on an interim basis - is former Flyers' coach John Stevens.
Murray's Style: D-Fense! Boom Boom D-Fense! Boom Boom D-Fense! On a team that retooled over the summer and bolstered their scoring lines, the defense-first philosophy no longer fit. Scoring 65 goals as a team puts them 29th in the NHL ahead of a team - the Islanders - who played two fewer games.
Stevens' Style: Although this is extremely short term in my opinion, Stevens is a former stay-at-home defenseman who, as a coach, doesn't mine experimenting. I'm talking about swapping wings, moving defensemen up front, etc. His Flyers were fifth and third in scoring in the Eastern Conference during the two successful seasons that he was there from start to finish. Regardless, expect the offense to pick up with this team no matter who the coach.
The impact on key players
Anze Kopitar - Already on pace for nearly 80 points, he still gets a boost. Think 85.
Mike Richards - If and when he returns, he becomes a 75-point player instead of a 65-point player.
Justin Williams, Simon Gagne and Dustin Brown - these players are better than 50 points. If healthy (and that's another column right there when we're discussing Williams and Gagne) these players should each top 65. Now, under the right coach, they will should. These three win big.
Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson - C'mon, these two are not 40-point players. Each should be flirting with 60. Hell, Doughty should be pushing for 70! Expect the pace to be picked up a lot.
Andrei Loktionov vs. Dustin Penner - One of these two players needs to be in the top six. I have to think that, despite how bad Penner has been, he will get another chance. That's just the veteran "code" and the influence of a big contract. Put money on him failing, however, and then the NHL-ready Loktionov can finally let loose. You may not see the ice time for Loktionov in the first three weeks, but once he gets it he will do much better under a more open system.
Slava Voynov - Voynov wasn't doing too badly under the old system, producing like a 30-point player. I think it's a safe bet that he can bump the pace up to a point every two games. But as a rookie, he's definitely a wildcard. Unproven players are never completely safe after a big change such as a new coach.
Goaltending - Of course, more offense will mean a few more goals allowed. But not enough to hurt Jonathan Quick's status as one of the best owns in the league. And the fact that he'll get more W's now will make up for it.