It’s still quite early in the season and with a record of 1-1-0 it’s hard to evaluate whether the Kings summer of roster upheaval is going to pay off. As of now it looks as though the added offensive depth will be a boon to the Kings provided everyone can stay healthy. Let’s take a look at some things you should be thinking about as the Kings get set to face-off against New Jersey:
-What’s the status of Dustin Penner? The dreaded “lower-body injury”, which I suppose could mean he either has a sore muscle or his tibia is sticking out of his leg. Since he’s day-to-day I would assume the former over the latter. Either way, the big man says he’s good to go against the Devils, so we’ll get our first look at what all of the off-season work for him amounts to.
-No Parse-tial treatment? Okay, I admit that was rough. However, Scott Parse who has been touted as the guy with the best hands on the Kings looks like he’s on his last leg with the team. He has yet to put it all together at game time and you can tell from Terry Murray’s comments that the coaching staff is frustrated with him. Parse is looking at being relagated to Brad Richardson status, i.e. bottom-6 for the Kings barring an injury to a top-6er. Is he just one of those guys who is great at practice but mediocre come game-time?
-Lines? What Lines? With Penner back in the fray, what will the lines look like tonight? Could we possibly see the top-6 Kings fans have been salivation over this summer: Penner – Kopitar – Williams / Gagne – Richards – Brown? How long will it take before Murray swaps everyone around? Whatever happens, Kings fans have to feel good about the wealth of options upfront.
-Double Quick or Slow Bernier? Bernier started the season off with a fairly ugly loss to Buffalo. He’s slated to get even more playing time this season based on how strong he finished last season. However, if he stumbles out of the gate like he did last season, could we see the team lean on Quick yet again? Will Bernier get a shot against either New Jersey or Philadelphia?
-JMFJ: Jack “Minus-Fourteen” Johnson? Everyone is wondering if JJ can round the defensive part of his game into form and this year is crucial. The Kings need Jack to clamp down on the back end. If he can do so, the Kings will have an even stronger defense, which is huge considering they were one of the best defensive teams in the league last season. Jack doesn’t need to have a Lidstrom-like plus/minus rating, but a minus-21 won’t cut it any more.
-Trade coming? According to Quisp, the Kings have 24 players on the Kings roster, which means someone has to go. The Kings have plenty of bottom-6 candidates with Colin Fraser, Trent Hunter, Kevin Westgarth, and Ethan Moreau. However, if the Kings can get a decent return from someone who thinks Scott Parse will fill out their scoring lines, will they pull the trigger?
The Kings face-off against the Devils tonight at the Rock, 4pm PT. Good thing it’s in Jersey or else we’d have to endure Kovalchuk getting booed all night long.
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