Sorry for the relative lack of posts recently. A lot of stuff going on for the Kings of late but there are a few things in particular I’d like to address.
Matt Greene has been back in action for the Kings for 5 games now and it wasn’t until he returned that I remembered how much he brought to the table. In those 5 games since his return the Kings are 4-1-0. I’m hardly suggesting that Greene is the sole reason the Kings are doing so well, but the physical element that Greene adds is undeniable.
Most of the power generated in hits comes from speed and momentum. Greene can certainly do it that way. However, not many guys can produce a powerful hit with their feet planted. Greene can put an opposing player on his seat from a standstill and that’s no easy task. It’s a skill that makes Greene a guy that you just can’t stop moving your feet against which can force opponents to make rash plays and turn over the puck. With Greene in the lineup and Doughty just days away, the Kings look like they’ll have a very difficult blue line to play against.
Greene has 16 hits in 5 games this season, good for 7th on the team (again, in just 5 games).
Rich Hammond reported before the game against New Jersey that Terry Murray didn’t think there would be much of a reaction to Kovalchuk. “I don’t think anybody knows about it around here, quite honestly. A few of the players know,” said Murray on Saturday. Even Rich Hammond was surprised that Murray would feel that way. Maybe Murray underestimated the involvement of the Kings fan base, but he certainly has a better idea of how educated they are after Saturday.
Each time Kovalchuk had the puck on his stick he was booed without mercy. Kings fans know all about Kovalchuk’s decision of the Jersey shore over Manhattan Beach. Whether Murray really thought Kings fans wouldn’t know, wouldn’t care, or he was simply playing down the inherent story, he certainly knows how involved the Kings faithful are now. We may not be Montreal but don’t dismiss us as outsiders.
Quisp over at Jewels From the Crown recently posted a quote from Kovalchuk that suggested his interest in Los Angeles was more for the sake of his wife who had never visited the City of Angels. Do I buy that? Not for a second. Of course Kovalchuk is going to dismiss the idea he had any interest in L.A. After all, he’ll be in bed with the Devils for 15 years. I’m sure plenty of athletes take months to decide on where they’ll play, are wined and dined by players, go back and forth with GMs on dollars and years, all so their wives can get a 3 day vacation. Yeah, right (Eye roll).
Speaking of wingers courted by the Kings, a quick check of his stat sheet and it’s clear that Simon Gagne isn’t having the best go of it in Tampa Bay so far. He has no goals or points and is a minus-8 in 6 games this season. What’s worse is that Tampa is a winning team. They currently sit atop the entire Eastern Conference. We could look at this in a negative light; Gagne can’t score for a team that sports the offensive talents of St. Louis, Stamkos, and Lecavalier. Or we could look at it in a positive light; Gagne has had a rough transition and once he starts to contribute Tampa Bay will really be rolling.
Or we can look at it in a realistic light; he’s probably injured. In fact he is, he’s on IR with a “Stiff Neck”.
While Gagne is a great talent, he is well known to be prone to injury. Many might criticize Kings GM Dean Lombardi for not being more aggressive in his pursuit of both Kovalchuk and Gagne, but abstaining from smashing the panic button has served the Kings well. They are neither saddled with a contract that would no doubt prevent the retention of Doughty, Johnson, and Simmonds, nor are they paying for an injured and underperforming winger.
Of course Lombardi is not psychic. He didn’t know that Kovalchuk would restrict the Devils so much that they would have to ice a short bench. Nor did he know that Gagne would become injured so soon. Regardless, sticking to the plan has produced great results so far for Lombardi. Kings fans can hope it will continue to do so.
Speaking of the Lightning, the Kings face-off against Tampa Bay on Thursday at 7:30pm PT at Staples Center.
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