Opportunities Wasted And Opportunities Gained
After an intensely boring start to the season news-wise for the Kings, the last week plus has proven eager to cram a firecracker into our esophagi. Carter goes down, Toffoli and Vey come up, Ellerby goes away, Stoll goes down, Greene goes down, Clifford goes down and now Quick goes down, Jones and Pearson come up. All the while the Kings are playing their best hockey of the season.
This is a good team.
18 games in and some things are becoming clear and I think I finally have a strong opinion about them.
Let’s start with the kids, Vey and Toffoli. What’s not to love? I wrote an article a few months before we won the Cup about how having rookies in the lineup in the right roles can energize a team. Youthful exuberance is a wonderful element to introduce into a locker room of quickly grizzling veterans. Toffoli can’t help but rack up points and Vey brings nearly everything to the table. Anyone who doesn’t want these kids to remain on the team indefinitely, regardless of injuries, is foolish.
That said, I think it was important for them to start the season in Manchester. Having great training camps, going down, getting a last little lesson in humility and tearing up lesser opponents seems to have worked wonders for them while the rest of the Kings got off to a less than brilliant start. But when Carter, Stoll and Clifford return, how do you keep Vey and Toffoli in the lineup?
That brings me to some players I’d like to complain about.
Matt Frattin. I’m over him. Does he do some things well? Absolutely. Is he worth a spot that should be Toffoli’s when Carter returns? No way. Frattin was supposed to be Brown-light, instead he’s been more along the lines of Lewis-light, or worse yet, Fraser-plus. I don’t think you trade him, but I think he needs to be a tweener.
Fraser. I’ve never had the problem with Fraser others have, but I’m over him too. I’ve always thought his spot on the roster was largely due to his locker room presence, but I think he needs to be the first to go if we are keeping the kids up for the foreseeable future. I’ve read that most think Vey replaces Stoll, but that happens at the deadline, not now.
Carcillo. The pleasant surprise of the season. He hasn’t been a complete idiot and he brings a dimension to the game no one else has for the Kings. Whereas Nolan and Clifford intimidate through size and terror and flying fists, Carcillo puts players on their heels through the energy of a psychotic bumblebee. I love having players like this on the team. He is Zeiler with hockey sense.
Muzzin is a danger to the ankles and shins of any player who dares to step on the ice with him. He has earned the early season title for Most a Frustrating King.
I’m completely done listening to people bitch about Regehr. Has he lost a step? Absolutely. But Regehr still has what makes the foundation of an effective defenseman; he is smart and makes the right reads. I’ll take that over young and stupid any day.
If Quick’s injury is serious (more than a few weeks), we could be in trouble. That’s obvious. However, playing behind a lesser goalie for a while will, I think, strengthen this team in the long run. It will probably translate to some lost points, which, since we play in the competitive conference, could easily be the difference between Carter and Richards washing each other’s balls in the first round and them washing their own on the 1st tee box. Our defense has not been up to our usual exceptional standards, particularly the penalty kill, and Quick going down forces it to improve. Sink or swim. Champions laugh at drowning… Just not while swimming. If you laugh while swimming you’ll fucking drown. I also like what I’ve seen from Scrivens so far (sans the shootout), and while he is no No. 1, Jones might still be.
Pearson. I know everyone hopes to see the Pearson-Vey-Toffoli line reunited, but I doubt it happens. Pearson and Vey will play together, likely with Lewis on the right, but Toffoli won’t leave Richards’ side until Carter returns.
Dwight King keeps playing like he has and we don’t need to trade for a LW.