Tuesday, January 20, 2009
The Kings break their 4-game losing streak with a win over the Minnesota Wild. The Wild were on the back end of playing three games in four nights and the Kings were rested up. You could say the latter had the advantage, but at this point, I'll take it without any misgivings. In looking back at the last game against the Dallas Stars, the Kings actually played better in regulation compared to the previous three contests. They fought all the way to the end and ended with a loss in the shootout, but this mindset was carried over to tonight's game where they won decisively over a tired Wild squad.
I basically thought everything looked good in this game:
- Jack Johnson played 17:44 and is slowly getting back into the groove of things. He looks strong and is making the simple plays, which is completely fine. After being out for so long, I don't want him trying anything fancy this early into his return. I'm still unsure who he could be paired with, and am really not interested in trying to guess. I'll let Terry Murray make that decision for me.
- All the other defensemen played a substantial number of minutes with the least being logged by Peter Harrold at 15:30. With JJ back in the lineup, Denis Gauthier and Tom Preissing look to be the healthy scratches with Harrold getting reduced minutes. I'm fine with this except that I'd want Tommy P back in the lineup before Gauts has another shot. With JJ being a physical presense, do we really need Gauts? We're lacking offense! Get Tommy P back; that is, when one of the top 6 can't play.
- All the top flight forwards picked up goals for themselves and I was very happy with the effort by these guys. Side note: Kyle Calder is not considered a "top flight forward" in my previous sentence.
- Role player and in the lineup until Oscar Moller returns, Derek Armstrong, always seems to contribute a great deal whenever he IS in the lineup. He notched another goal tonight and I've been very satisfied with his play. When he played in nearly every game last season, I thought he was just another mediocre player, but now that he's playing reduced minutes, he's making each one count and, thus, standing out much more. Whoda thunk??
Speaking of sad face, I'm patiently waiting for little Moller to get his butt back in the lineup. Seeing Kevin Westgarth out there for less than five total minutes, was... interesting. He's basically a miniature-Ivanans, only figuratively of course. I was unimpressed with Westgarth's numbers last season and his play during summer training, so I'm not holding my breath for him to start racking up any sort of numbers. In the mean time, he'll be a mini-Bam Bam.
The Kings get a respectable 32 shots on the Wild netminders while only letting 27 get on Jonathan Quick. (By the way, Jonathan Bernier was looking mighty fine on the bench.) Quick looked solid positionally and had a fast glove-hand tonight. He's penciled in to start against the Colorado Avalanche tomorrow, and after this game, I'd be surprised to see Bernier in net. The next Kings game after tomorrow is on the 29th against the Chicago Blackhawks, and if Erik Ersberg isn't back by then, maybe (just maybe), we'll see Bernier. Personally, I'd rather have Ersberg back before that game and have Bernier return to Manchester so he can get as many games as he can under his belt at the AHL level. If he's gonna be the Number 1 for years to come, he needs to be great at all other levels of play. Nothing new here, just the simple truth.
So the Kings start a quick back-to-back on the road with a solid win and I can end the day on a happy note. FINALLY.