The Kings decided to end their 5 game road trip in shocking fashion. They showed up late to their contest with the Devils on Sunday. About 1:46 left in the game, to be exact.
Down by 2 in the second period, the Kings found life when Michal Handzus scored with less than half a minute remaining. If that gave the Kings any life going into the third period, they sure didn't show it. The Devils outshot the Kings 14-8 in the final frame, but it was the Western Conference team that brought the late game dramatics. With less than 2 minutes remaining in the game Wayne Simmonds flung a puck from a sharp angle at a screened Brodeur. The puck found its way in to tie the game.
With 28 seconds remaining and Andy Greene in the box for tripping, Drew Doughty blasted a slapshot from the top of the umbrella. The puck squirted under Brodeur's arm to give the Kings an improbable win and an impressive 5-0 road trip record.
After a poor 7 game home-stand it was unclear what position the Kings would be in after this critical road trip. However, the Kings showed they can win in pretty much any situation. They dictated the flow in Detroit, dominated the play in Toronto, staved off an poor start to bury Columbus, leaned on their netminder to win in a shootout in Boston, and staged some late-game heroics to steal one in New Jersey.
The Kings are in good position in the Western Conference playoff standings and are poised to visit the post-season for the first time in quite awhile. Quisp over at Jewels From the Crown has done the math and the Kings' odds look pretty good.
Let's shift gears for a moment and talk about the burgeoning trade throwdown. Calgary, Toronto, and Anaheim started the trade season off with a bang in a three team/ten player swap. Dion Phaneuf was the big name in the deal, getting sent to the Leafs after falling out of favor with the Calgary organization. J.S. Giguere, Vesa Toskala, Niklas Hagman, and Jason Blake were a few of the larger names that also are looking for a new address.
What does this mean for the Kings? Well, less Phaneuf and Giguere for starters. In terms of the trade market it sets off what people like to call the “dominoes”. Now that these trades have been made, trading partners and targets could change. Although it does not appear to directly affect the big trade that Los Angeles is rumored to be in on; Ilya Kovalchuk.
Los Angeles has been the perceived top contender for Kovie for weeks now, mostly due to the perfect storm of requirements they possess. The Kings have a wealth of young prospects, cap space to take on a big contract, and are now well positioned enough to move a draft pick without fear that it could be a franchise prospect they're giving up. The problem? It's rumored that the sticking point is a roster player Kings GM Dean Lombardi would be sending to Atlanta. The names being thrown around are Frolov, Johnson, and most recently Simmonds. It's more likely Johnson or Simmonds that Lombardi is hesitant to part with since Frolov is both a UFA at the end of the season and has seen his production slipping.
As spectacular as it would be to see a star of Kovalchuk's calibar call Staples Center home, it might not be in the Kings best interest. Dean Lombardi is not one to sell the farm for one player and beyond that, it is more likely scoring depth the Kings are in the market for, not a highly paid/high scoring rental.
Whatever the Kings do, they will have 2 weeks to do it in before the Olympic trade freeze. After that it will have to wait until the Vancouver games are over.
The Kings next contest will be at home against the New York Rangers. The Rangers were involved in the second significant trade of the season acquiring struggling center Olli Jokinen from Calgary in exchange for struggling forwards Ales Kotalik and Christopher Higgins. The Rangers will be looking to improve their fortunes as they are 3-7 in their last 10 games and 1-4 in their last 5. The Rangers last game was a win against Colorado on Sunday.
The puck drops at 7:30 PT Tuesday night.
About the Author
Written by Eric Cooney
Eric Cooney was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina, and lives in Los Angeles, CA. He shares his thoughts on the NHL as one man who is a northerner, southerner, east coaster, and west coaster. Follow him on Twitter @EricCooney