Last night we got our first taste of Kings’ hockey with the rookie game versus Phoenix. Camp starts on Saturday. We are back on Staples Center ice in less than a week. Do we know our Kings? Well sure we do, to an extent, but with so many new faces, some surprises are certainly in store. Bobby already took care of the defensemen. That leaves the forwards, which we will break up into top six and bottom six, the goalies and the coaches. This article will deal with the top 6, where the Kings’ have made the most drastic changes from last season’s squad.
You all seemed to like Scribe’s season preview formula, so we’ll stick with that…. with a couple of minor changes.
1. At his best
2. At his worst
3. If only he
4. If he caught me in bed with his girlfriend/wife
5. If Scribe got drunk with him
At his best, Kopitar is a known commodity. Known to dangle, known to drag several players on his back, known to play in every situation on the ice. Known to capture our hearts. He as a top 10 center in the NHL, with the potential to be top 5. You can count on Kopitar for anything and everything, he is the quintessential 1st line center. He can wow you with highlight moves or hunker down and play a boring grinding game. He is a coaches dream. If we are talking about Kopitar at his best potential, which we hope to see this season with a healthy and motivated Penner or Gagne on his left, Kopi should be able to reach 40 goals and 90+ points.
At his worst, Kopitar is still better than most. If he is not rigorous in his conditioning then he tires towards the ends of games. Kopitar will probably always be asked to shoot the puck more and when he isn’t driving at the net, his play can become monotonous and uninspired. Sometimes we have to tell Kopitar that its not a great idea to read the advertisements on the boards during games, even if he has the puck. Truly, Kopitar at his worst is when Kopitar is not on the ice, which as we saw at the end of last season and in the playoffs, really, really sucks.
If only he would clone himself. Seriously, I have virtually nothing to complain about with Anze. I’ve got Anze envy.
If he caught me in bed with his girlfriend, he’d probably make me pancakes.
If Scribe got drunk with him, Kopitar would doze off listening to Bobby explain in painstaking detail how he would have stopped that shootout move that fooled Brodeur.
At his best, Mike Richards is Brayden Schenn at his best in 5 years. Snide comments aside, Richards is one of the best defensive centers in the league while also being able to score 60 points in his sleep and closer to 80 when he eats a nutritional breakfast. Richards isn’t a sniper, but he has a good shot. He’s a damn good passer and he has a burning desire to crush his opponents. Not only will Richards leave it all on the ice, he will leave you there as well, suffering in his wake. When James Brown died, he passed on his title, Godfather of Soul, to Richards. Heart, character and drive call up Richards every now and again to get advice.
At his worst, Richards is a world renowned party animal and monumental drunkard, squirting alcohol through laughing teeth at anyone who dare ask him to cool off. We haveall heard about discord with Richards and the locker room, but how much of that is either fabricated or just a result of being around his BFF Jeff Carter is anyone’s guess. In the relevant world, the one on the ice, Richards’ offense can be lacking the punch of a 1b center. The big question for the season is whether we have two first line centers akin to the Penguins or do we resemble the ugly Ducklings more with a traditional quality #2 guy behind Kopitar? Will Richards be more Malkin or more Koivu?
If only he would play like he did three years ago, we would be an instant Stanley Cup contender. Did Richards peak early or did he tail off in the past two years because Philly utilized him differently? His best season was under Stevens and Murray, so we’ll stick with optimism here.
If he caught me in bed with his girlfriend, Mike would slap the girl for telling anyone he had a girlfriend, then hand me a Philly jersey and a Jeff Carter mask and excitedly yell “Put those on, time for a finger trap!”
If Scribe got drunk with him, everything would go wonderfully for a few hours as they traded fight stories, Bobby listening eagerly as Richards described all the times he punched Corey Perry in the face, Bobby extolling about all those people no one has ever heard of that he beat up. Inevitably, they would end up fighting themselves and later, Scribe would boast about his awesome 30 words per minute typing speed, which admittedly is impressive for someone with only three fingers not in a cast.
At his best, Penner is a beast. He is scary big in the right direction with hands as soft as butter. Penner is a 30 goal guy and next to Kopitar should eclipse 60 points. We saw briefly last season that these two players can get a good read off each other and with each player capable of hanging onto the puck near the boards with two players draped over him, there should be plenty of open ice in which to operate. The one-timer, not seen at Staples Center since Allison was feeding Palffy, is set to make a triumphant return this year.
At his worst Penner is utterly useless. We saw this last season after Kopitar went down. As bipolar a player as there ever was, his work ethic has consistently been called into question. Coasting and physical play softer than his hands can render Penner about as effective as a healthy scratch. We are banking on Penner’s horrendous play in the playoffs being a result of a lack of fitness and the hangover associated with playing for a bottom feeding team for too long.
If only he truly is in the great shape the media has claimed and that a contract year is enough motivation to play with the passion needed on a contending team, then all will be well and Penner may earn another substantial contract at the end of the year, if not from us then from someone. Otherwise his last big pay day might be in his rear view mirror.
If he caught me in bed with his girlfriend/wife, I get the feeling he would sob profusely as he beat his fists bloody against what he thought was my face. With all the tears in his eyes, I would slip away and he would be content to put bear paw sized dents in his wall.
If he got drunk with Scribe, they would end up doing push ups in the parking lot as Bobby insisted his Metallica-aided workouts were better than anything that silly Tim Adams could have given him.
At his best our captain is a born leader by example with the scoring chops to back up his physical play. He passes the puck quickly and precisely and drives to the net with reckless abandon. His ability to gather garbage in the crease and score dirty goals is on par with Ryan Smyth 10 years ago. When on defense he catches whoever has the puck with his head down, a mistake they won’t make in the same game twice. He is stone cold cool and while he won’t inspire with any Mel Gibson-like speeches, his steely reserve and well time boyish smile will keep even the most destitute of players confident in their ability to win any and every hockey game regardless of the score or the time left on the clock.
At his worst, he inspires aneurysms. He doesn’t pass the puck but rather shoots from anywhere and everywhere, often trying to pick the corner but instead flinging the puck so hard it rattles of the boards and back to where Jon Quick is the next person to touch it.
If only he would stop diving, Jamie Kompon’s powerplay wouldn’t have a chance to fail.
If he caught me in bed with his wife, his 3 year old son would probably kick my ass.
If Scribe got drunk with him, Bobby would end up making fun of his lisp and while Brown would politely smile and laugh at his jokes, within a week this site would get ‘mysteriously’ shut down.
At his best, Williams is pound for pound our best offensive player in my book. His creativity is through the roof and his ability to make plays in tight spaces is second to none on the team. Williams will only occasionally give you a highlight reel play, but he consistently throughout a game opens up space for his teammates and finds soft spots in the defense. He will never plow his way through an opponent, nor will he deke his way to the net, but he knows exactly when to stop and pass, when to dance to the corners and is fantastic at hitting a trailing player with a crisp pass. Williams will make any line he is on a scoring threat.
At his worst, Williams gets pushed off the puck and isn’t able to utilize his teammates. His is not a one man wrecking crew and if his linemates aren’t on their games, Williams’ efforts won’t matter much. We have also seen that while never suffering from a nagging injury, his willingness to put his body in precarious situations can cause to him to at best, get knocked off the puck frequently or at worst, get himself knocked into the hospital.
If only he was a hair faster, a few inches taller and 20 pounds heavier in muscle, he would be Penner at his best.
If he caught me in bed with his wife/girlfriend, a cartoon-like chase around the bed and a Scooby-Doo sequence through his hallways would ensue.
If Scribe got drunk with him, Williams would win Scribe over to the point where for once in his life, Bobby stopped talking and just listened.
At his best, Gagne is and has been a 40 goal scoring dynamic winger. Capable of taking care of his own zone, Gagne is lightning fast and has a shot to match. A born shooter, Simon is a walking highlight reel. Not huge, but willing to play physical, Gagne beats opponents with his speed. He can beat you to the inside, to the outside, and though he’ll never go through you, he isn’t afraid to make you go through him. Gagne at his best is the winger we have all been waiting for.
At his worst, Gagne is nursing an injury. When healthy no one questions his ability, but his ability to stay healthy is always in question. Its not just the time he misses from injury that causes problems, but rather the period when he gets back on the ice that causes his average production to drop. His regular season last year was not spectacular, but he made up for it with a superb playoffs. The Lightning however, had other wingers to rely on when Gagne was out. The Kings will not be so lucky if Simon can’t stay in playing condition.
If only he would go the Wolverine route and have adamantium fuzed to his bones, we’d have nothing to worry about.
If he caught me in bed with his wife, he’d be pissed, though it would be hard to tell with that goofy French Canadian accent. He’d come after me, I’d run, he’d slip and break a hip, and I’d get back in bed with his wife. He only broke a hip, he can call 911 on his own damn cell phone, his wife is hot and I’m having fun.
If Scribe got drunk with him, Bobby would come up with yet another top 10 reasons Canada sucks, but by number 8 Simon would have called over Mike Richards to beat the crap out of him.
The Injury/Penner is lazy Replacement
It’s bound to happen, someone will have to step in for a time. At his best, this will be Kozun (on wing) or Loktionov (at center) and he will prove that size don’t matter. Kozun will click with Kopitar or Richards and never look back, our very own Mr. St. Louis born right before our eyes. Loktionov will play solid defense and be so crafty, no one will have the chance to knock him off the puck.
At his worst, Terry Murray will play Moreau in the top 6, or worse yet, Westgarth. Dean will call up Dwight King. Parse? I keep forgetting he is on the team. Maybe we’ll get a dose of top 6 Clifford, that could be fun.
If only our top 6 could stay in tact the whole season. I love Kozun but he can wait.
If Kozun found me in bed with his girlfriend, I would show him that in some cases, size really does matter.
If Scribe got drunk with Loktionov, he would end up making a distasteful joke about the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash and insult Loki right back to the motherland. Voynov would hear about it and follow suit. Then it wouldn’t matter if Scribe could kick this guy or that guy’s ass, because he’d have 3,000 S&S readers curb stomping his loose lipped face.
Camp is so close we can taste it!
Bottom 6 or goalies coming up next.
GO KINGS GO!