Monday, September 22, 2008
Tonight marked the official first day of the preseason with a victory against the Phoenix Coyotes. The Kings were able to subdue the desert dogs, but in reality, that was only on the scoreboard. The Kings had the game in the bag at the end when it was 5 to 4 at which time the Yotes pulled their goalie and the Kings scored an empty-netter. The game was, in actuality, closer than the score made it out to be.
I took in my first game as an official season ticket holder, and I must say, it was quite odd. I had never experienced a preseason game before and really didn't know what to expect. I was glad to have Marie by my side taking AJ's seat for the game. AJ was otherwise occupied with her duel piano training with Eddie Izzard somewhere in the midwest. I have no clue; you'll have to ask her about that.
Attendance was predictably sparse and the usual arena commentator was unavailable for whatever reason. Perhaps he wanted to duel it out with some pianos as well, but his replacement was... subpar, for lack of trying to be nice. The evening continued with a questionable rendition of the National Anthem by a typical twig-like blonde and then the puck finally dropped. As the opening shift commenced, I reminded Marie (read: out loud to myself) that this was just a preseason game and that there was no reason to get stressed or angry. Thus, I did not commence my frustrated ranting as I have done in the past when plays were handled in a sloppy fashion or if passes were missed.
Since the roster was split between Staples Center and the game in Kansas City against St. Louis, the Kings in LA had plenty of young talent manning the points and corners. There was plenty to take notice of:
- Oscar Moller is a speedy sniper and I feel like he could be another Daniel Briere. There's definitely a presence about him on the ice, but I'd like to see a bit more weight on his frame so that he can actually withstand any hits aimed his way.
- Richard Clune is better than John Zeiler. When Marie asked who I would rather keep, I said Clune without batting an eyelash. My reasoning? Clune can dish out the hits, break up plays, and is willing to throwdown with anyone. Zeiler, on the other hand, can't skate, lays down crappy hits, and doesn't drop the gloves.
- Thomas Hickey definitely has promise but needs to get some weight on those bones. What is he, 150-nothing? I don't see him making the roster based on the fact that he wouldn't be able to crack the top 4 and his development would suffer in that regard. Back to Seattle, my friend.
- Brian Boyle was looking quite soft. It actually surprised me at how timid he was being in the corners when going to get the puck. He was knocked down a couple of times with apparent ease. I'm not too worried though, once he gets it in his head that it's okay to play with an agressive edge, he'll be fine.
- Viatcheslav Voinov. Wow, he needs a LOT of work if he's going to see any real playing time on this roster. But every time either Marie or I started to get tense when watching Voinov fumble around on the ice, I'd say out loud, "He's just a kid... it's okay..."
I really don't want to criticize the quality of hockey on display tonight since it was the first game of the preseason, but the amount of broken plays by both squads cause undo strain on my nerves. There was a lot of north/south movement, but not because those were the systems being employed; rather, there were just so many turnovers and missed passes that plays seemed to appear out of thin air from whomever retrieved the puck.
Phoenix swapped out their goalie at the midpoint of the game. The Kings waited until the third period to give Jason LaBarbera some relief in the form of Danny Taylor. I must admit, Barbs let in some soft goals. Kyle Turris got one right on the doorstep, and it was so predictable that the play seemed like it happened in slow motion. There was another goal like that against Barbs but really, what the hell was Matt Greene doing? Talk about being out of position. Instead of being in front of the net protecting, he was picking daisies in the trapezoid. I have no idea what that was about. But, once again, this is just the first game of the season and it can only get better.
[Update] The Kings have reassigned three (3) players and released one from a tryout agreement.