It has been a rough start for the new young LA Kings this year. After missing the playoffs despite a winning record and numerous injuries, they made some big changes. Andy Murry was ousted as coach at the end of the season and former Vancouver Canucks coach Marc Crawford takes over this year. Also joining are fellow Canuck goalie Dan Cloutier, former King and All Star Rob Blake, Center Patrick O’Sullivan(traded along with a future first round draft choice from Minnesota for Pavel Demitra & rookie sensation Anze Kopitar (who leads all rookies in points so far. The Demitra trade is hurting right now as the Kings are lacking scoring and he was a proven great one. Perhaps down the road O’Sullivan and the draft choice will make up the difference. Mainstays from last season include Center Mikael Cammalleri who emerged to be a force in the future, tough winger Dustin Brown, solid Craig Conroy, defensemen Aaron Miller, Mattias Nordstrom and Lubomir Visnovsky which give the Kings a solid frame on the backline in front of new goalie Cloutier or Mathieu Garon.
The Kings took on the 5-5 NY Rangers with Jaromir Jagr, maybe the best scorer in the game right now, and Brendan Shanahan, coming over from Detroit. This was the first time in 3 years the Rangers have played in LA. Somehow that should be changed where the local fans get to see the Eastern Stars and teams more often. The Rangers looked very slow and out of sync.
The Kings took advantage and came out hitting and with lots of energy. They outshot the Rangers 21-5 in the first period. Defenseman Brent Sopel scored the first 2 goals with some great plays and passing especially on the power play. Alexander Frolov, counted on for a lot of offense this year, scored his 4th goal of the season to make it 3-0 in the second period. Shanahan started the 3rd period with a goal of his own before pesky Sean Avery (who leads the team in shots taken), scored his 2nd goal of the season and the final was 4-1 Kings. Blake got a double minor late in the game including a misconduct penalty for arguing which took him out of the game but it was inevitable at that time.
Left Winger, Jeff Cowan, went head first into the boards and was taken out with an injury. His status will be re-evaluated. Next up for the Kings are the young & explosive Pittsburgh Penguins who are leading their division while the Kings are in 4th place in the Western Conference. More info, schedule and tickets at www.lakings.com