While Jones is not what I wanted to see immediately after the Olympics, I’ll cut him some slack… for now. Still confused as to keeping Stoll on the wing, but on the other hand, we finally get a good look at Marc-Andre Cliche (who will wear #67 by the by), one of the fruits of the sordid Avery tree. Hopefully all that stuff about one bad apple infecting the bunch is hogwash. Nevertheless, its also fun to watch a guy get his first NHL action. All the adrenaline, the fervor, and a big something to prove.
Speaking of people with something to prove:
Quick – That he can go 2 weeks without a game and keep up his level of play. We are about to embark on phase 2 of the “Is Jonathan Quick a sustainable #1 goalie?” journey.
Johnson – Paired tonight with his recent nemesis in tabloid-speak, Doughty, I am expecting a big final push from Johnson. Renewed confidence, vigor, and that desire to win will, in my meaningless opinion, tip the scales on our Michigan-Man. The rest of this season will test the mettle and mental resolve of the usurped golden child of the Kings’ defense.
Handzus – The calm veteran did not walk away with an Olympic medal, much to our chagrin. However, Zus had a stellar outing in Vancouver and should have the least trouble of our Olympians switching gears towards the playoff march.
Coach Murray – Why would he have something to prove? Because the last time the Kings’ came out of a long break, it didn’t go so well. Murray should be out to prove that he really can keep this team afloat above the cluttered masses of the Western Conference bubble. Time for the old man to show that he truly has been instrumental in this team’s development, and has not merely been riding the coattails of Ryan Smyth’s high-octane injection of leadership and the momentum of Quick’s dominating play.
Dean Lombardi – To trade or not to trade? I am with co-writer Bobby on the Torres bandwagon. However I don’t expect the Butters look-alike to don the crown. Since Ray Whitney looks to be staying in Carolina and not too many other grizzled playoff veteran UFA’s to be on the market, does Lombardi settle for less? As the clock tic toc tics away toward tomorrow’s 12PM PT trade deadline, I’m leaning further towards our helmsman leaving port with the same set of deckhands. And that’s not such a bad thing. This team has taken us fans on a wild ride up until this point, and there truly is no reason to think that will change as we close out the final 21 games of the season.
Time will tell.
As will tonight’s game. I do not put it past Lombardi to push harder for a trade in the wee-hours of the morning if the Kings’ come out flat against Dallas. While Dean has never been one to hover his finger over the panic button, I have to imagine he is at the least, partially putting options on the back burner for the time being until he gets one last look at his team before locking in the roster for the 2010 playoffs, which, by the way, I am days away from securing seats to, courtesy of season ticket holder priority.
Get on the bus people! We are about to kiss this station goodbye.