Rumbles from the Jungle

So there have been twelve games since I last reported from the Jungle, and in those games, they have a record of 7-4-0-1. It should be noted that the last two losses were in shootouts; something they have actually been pretty solid on this season. Do you know what I call that? Some serious mojo. Kickin’ ass and takin’ names. Laying the smacketh down on all their roody-poo candy-asses. Showing those prehistoric bitches how we do things downtown.

Okay, I’ll stop with the quotes. You get my point.

Things are going great for the Monarchs right now. There’s really no better way to say it. They’re still leading the eastern conference and the victories are piling up. In the five seasons that I’ve been a season ticket holder, this may be the best season start I have ever witnessed first-hand. Even with a couple of our resident hotshots — Vey and Toffoli — doing time up in LA along with our ever-vigilant net-minder Jonesey (congrats on the 4-0 record, by the way), the guys down in Manchester are keeping a great season rolling.

Anyone who knows anything about hockey knows that it’s first and foremost, a team sport; it takes a team to win and it takes a team to lose. Sure, a great goalie can steal a game for you here and there, but in the end everyone has jobs to do. Hockey is a game of mistakes; whoever makes fewer mistakes usually wins. In the case of the Monarchs, they’re not making a ton — at least not costly — and that’s a good thing. But that isn’t to say there aren’t standout players right now. That’s kind of what I wanted to share some quips about.

I’ve been asked by a few people how Nic Deslauriers has been doing since switching from D to Left Wing. In a word? Awesome! He’s still right where he needs to be on the forecheck, he’s playing physical, dropping the gloves when an opposing skater’s getting out of line, getting timely looks at the net, and much to fans’ delight, finding the back of it when it counts. The best and most recent example was the game on Black Friday that went into OT; D-Lo was the guy who ended it in extraordinary fashion. Check out the highlights for yourselves.

The guys pig-piled on him after he scored the GWG like they had just won a conference championship. It was a sight to see, and the thunderous roar of applause and cheers from the crowd echoed the on-ice sentiment.

Another guy who has been really stepping up is young goaltender, Jean-Francois Berube. I had the pleasure of seeing him play in two or three games a couple of seasons ago. Back then, he was pretty green. I really felt like if the D weren’t working extra hard to keep the rubber off of him, the opponents would have been scoring at-will.

The JF who is in net right now? The guy’s a monster. He’s got great rebound control, he’s keeping his eyes on the puck, and no matter how close that little fucker is to crossing the goal line, he never gives up. I see in him what I loved about watching Peter Mannino (now in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton) play last season. He has no quit and he doesn’t take any shit; he doesn’t hesitate to jab a player trying to screen him or push him around.

I’m also loving seeing young forward Jordan Weal show just how much his game has developed since last season. He is much more confident with the puck and doesn’t seem afraid to deke and dangle around pesky defenders. Some of the goals he’s gotten have left me in awe. How he sees the openings that he does is beyond me. Goalie hugging the post? Short-side top-shelf all day.

What’s even better is he’s giving other guys on his line chances with great passes. Kozun, Deslauriers and several others have all been beneficiaries of his vision.

I could easily go on for days about contributions from other guys on the team. Sometimes it’s tough when I’m in the stands watching the game to really keep tabs on what any specific players are doing well. The fact that I can call out those three — or possibly many others — says what needs to be said.

This weekend the guys are playing two away and one at home against the Worcester Sharks, Adirondack Phantoms and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Will they continue their winning ways? Here’s hoping.

Go Monarchs (and Kings!)

Categories: L.A. Kings News

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10 replies

  1. If the Deslaurier experiment works why not roll with it. I’ve never really seen him play but if he’s got the speed and stick handling abilities definite plus.

    Definitely good to hear the boys are still kicking ass. Jones has been a pleasant surprise. He’s got the #1 D in the league in front of him but he still makes some epic saves.

    Ideally Manchester wins Calder (I think that’s the right cup) and Kings win Lord Stanley’s again. Talk about a banner year.

    • I would love to see the Calder Cup call Manchester home! It’d be a first for the franchise too. I think the closest they got was two or three seasons ago when they went all the way to the Eastern Conference finals. Unfortunately, their opponents were the Hershey Bears, the team many consider the darlings of the league. The refs’ whistles were non-existent on Hershey’s infractions for the first three games of the series, and by the time they removed their heads from their asses, the Monarchs were down 3 games to 2 in a best-of-seven; it ended six games.

      The Monarchs did shut out Hershey once during the series 1-0. That had never happened to the Bears in the playoffs before that. A little parting gift from Bernie, you could say.

      What kills me to this day is the Monarchs could have kicked the Texas Stars’ asses (the Western Conf. champs) and would have won the cup.

      But yeah, either way, I’m actually kind of impressed with Jones’ performance up in LA myself. I’m not accusing him of being lazy, but the Jones you guys are seeing is trying a lot harder than the one we see in Manchester. Bernier did the exact same thing.

      • I’m not really surprised. I mean no one wants to stay in the AHL when you can play in the NHL but they should at least try and play on a similar level.

        Well…this may be their year at the Calder.

  2. Great write up! Some questions:

    It seems Deslauriers is going to be able to bring size as a forward no matter what level he plays at, and he’s definitely bringing offense too at the AHL level. My question is, how high is his offensive potential? Do we have a Brent Burns here or is he going to be Travis Moen at the NHL level instead?

    I said before the season that I thought based on the video I’ve seen that Toffoli, Vey, and Pearson were all NHL ready, and now that we’ve gotten to see them all in action with the Kings, I was right. Not that Vey and Pearson are NHL superstars or anything or that they can’t use more improvement, so can Toffoli for that matter, but they’re all upgrades over Colin Fraser if not Dan Carcillo etc.

    But one of the guys I thought could be close and had more immediate ceiling perhaps than Pearson was Jordan Weal. Is there any reason he hasn’t gotten a shot with the Kings yet? He might be the most skilled of them all in terms of creating scoring opportunities and dangling, an element long (mostly) missing on the Kings, but he hasn’t gotten a shot.

    And how has Kozun been doing? I know Vey is younger and has more upside, but in terms of NHL-capabilities right now, I saw Kozun and Vey as being very close, with Kozun perhaps having the better shot and a greater chance of producing in the NHL immediately. Why hasn’t he gotten a chance?

    When will we see Forbort in LA? Just based on physical talent he will immediately be the 2nd or 3rd most talented Kings defenseman without having played an NHL game. And what about Colin Miller? He was the surprise of preseason for me, he looked like the next Voynov with more size and better top end speed (and not as good a dangler but very solid hands as well, very poised). I felt he was the most NHL-ready of maybe anyone but Toffoli I’d seen in preseason, but the Kings seem to be overlooking him. Will we see him soon? And has Kitsyn come along at all?

    Lastly, Tanner Pearson. I hated the pick when the Kings made it. Then I saw some highlights of him with the Monarchs last season, and saw he has a fantastic shot that I didn’t know about, and got more excited about him. But being able to actually watch him with the Kings and scout him as a whole, I remember why I didn’t like the pick. The shot is fantastic, but he doesn’t get many chances to use it because his skating is mediocre, and his hands are very loose, far from good. He’s a slightly better, more power-forward version of the Trevor Lewis pick, except he can shoot and definitely has more potential if he can fix his hands and improve his skating. So I guess my question is, has he fixed his hands or improved his skating at all?I almost wouldn’t be opposed to using him as a trade chip for an established top6 left winger while he still has value as a recent 1st round draft pick because as Trevor Lewis keeps showing, bad hands don’t ever seem to get fixed, unlike other areas of prospect’s games, for some reason.

    • Thanks for reading! Lots of questions…

      There’s a good chance of me eating my words somewhere down the line, but if you ask me, I think D-Lo still hasn’t reached his full potential. Since they brought him up to forward, I personally think his game has had more bite and he’s a lot more active on both ends. Whether he’ll eventually be a Burns or Moen, your guess is as good as mine. On the Monarchs I’d say he’s performing at a Burns-level for what it’s worth.

      If you ask me, Weal and Kozun’s biggest hurdle to getting called up is their size. Both of ’em, no matter how skilled, are under 6 feet tall. If you recall in the Cup year, they called up a couple of the Monarchs’ big guys (Noley and Kinger) to bring more size to LA’s lines. Calling up two little guys isn’t going to aid that cause. While some other shorter players have proven they can be effective and contribute in big ways — look at Martin St. Louis and Nathan Gerbe — I just don’t think that’s LA’s mantra right now.

      I’ve definitely liked what I’ve seen from Forbort this season (and the end of last). I’m excited to see what the rest of the season holds for him. The times where they have Sabby (Scott Sabourin) and Forbsey on the ice together playing D, good things have happened.

      Kitsyn is hard to speak about because he’s a scratch more often than not. He’s definitely a big body when he’s out there and creates commotion in front of the opposing team’s net, but if he has “star-power,” it hasn’t shown yet.

      Last but not least is Pearson… You know, I had high hopes for him when he got drafted. Typically you’re getting a quality player when he goes somewhere in the first round. With Tanner, it’s weird. It’s often like he’s not trying all that hard in Manchester. I’ll see him have opportunities to carry the puck up where if he got some speed, he’d create a scoring chance. Instead, he just seems to have no sense of urgency. When he’s up in LA, he skates his ass off…

  3. If there’s such a thing as the Law Of Inspiration, I’m invoking it. Dean Lombardi has created, or cultivated I should say, a culture of being competitive throughout the organization and since we won the cup everyone has gotten hungrier. That bodes well for the Monarchs and as well for the Kings. All of a sudden the system and the culture of team play brings out success and shines the light on players that are developed properly and with patience. The Kings are a great team not because of savvy trading, although that’s not to be denied, but because Dean Lombardi is a long term thinking genius that has not only brought us our first cup, but set us up for a chance at many in the next decade! All praise Deano I say!

  4. We’re rich! The Kings have never been an organization to my recollection that farmed talent very well. That’s certainly changed since Lombardi took over. We have young stars on the brink for years to come it seems. Kinda makes you wanna smack people bitching about anything. Developing a left wing is pretty insignificant compared to the wealth we have in goal, on defense and at center. Wealthy doesn’t even seem to cover it. We are currently hoarding talent at every other position. Thanks for the report Dave.
    When the cap goes up it goes up for everyone.what will land us the top talent in the off season will be the ability to sincerely offer that top name player a chance to win it all. Not an extra year or million dollars in the offer. GKG\X/

  5. Thanks for the updates, Jungle Dave! Any information regarding our future is always welcome and appreciated.


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