Kings Sweep Away Misfit Coyotes
Before I offer my opinion on the LA Kings trade rumors, I should mention a little bit about last night...
During the two-game home series against the Phoenix Coyotes, we saw a true championship caliber team man-handle and dictate play against a team that thinks they can compete with them, but in reality they cannot.
The only reason why the Coyotes got as far as they did last season was because of Raffi Torres' cheap shot to the back of the head of Marian Hossa, the Blackhawks' best two-way player on the ice and also due to Corey Crawford's soft goals in overtime.
Sorry Phoenix, but last spring was perhaps your best ever chance to lift Lord Stanley...at least as the Coyotes, if the team does in fact relocate in the near future.
With the Kings scoring the first two goals, the Coyotes tried everything in their arsenal to get back in the game, not by using their speed and skill, which is clearly inferior to the Kings, but by diving, sucker-punching and crosschecking LA players around the ice trying to spark something.
Shane Doan made it somewhat interested by scoring a pair of late third period goals, but also proved how much of a turd he is on the ice. The guy reminds of a little of A.J. Pierzsynki in baseball. You love having him on your team, as he will do anything necessary to stick up for anyone on the team, but is hated by everyone else in the league. I'm not sure how much opposing players hate him, but as a fan now I really detest Mr. Doan.
I have respect for #19 as a captain and give him some credit for sticking around with the same team all of his career (so far), but as an opposing fan I just cannot stand him.
Doan had committed at least three, maybe four infractions on one shift with his team trailing by 2 late in the second period. Slava Voynov was playing the puck behind his own net, and had his back turned when Doan slammed into him from behind, hard into the boards. As play continued, Doan and Jake Muzzin had been fighting for the puck along the near boards, when Doan got his stick high and clocked Muzzin in the chin with his elbow. When the puck rolled around to the other side boards to Justin Williams, Doan delivered a hard check sending Williams down to the ice. I thought that was a good hit, and probably didn't merit a whistle.
However, Muzzin, still angry over the dangerous hit on his defensive pairing Voynov and also getting a high stick elbow to the face, had Doan lined up and collided hard, both inadvertently banging knees together. Doan then went flying down and acted like a little baby, cowering on the ice with head in hands. Instead of acting or looking like he was hurt (a possible dive or embellishment on his part), he quickly got up, threw his stick and gloves onto the ice like a toddler who refuses to eat his veggies, and went after Muzzin.
To the dismay of the fans and my utter disbelief, Doan received no penalty time for any of his actions. From that point on, I just laughed off the Coyotes for the rest of the night, including every time Doan, the captain of the Misfits stepped onto the ice. With the leader of a team acting like a moron, how can anyone take that team seriously? Not me...that's for sure!
And it got worse for the Coyotes after that...sorry, Phoenix Misfits.
After Phoenix finally scored a goal to end a long, miserable drought, Doan's childish behavior led to other goons like Raffi Torres and David Schlemko running around like headless chickens just looking for trouble. That kind of crap usually doesn't work in trying to get your team going. Instead, it sends a message that "we give up and we know we're dead!". LA scored on an ensuing power play advantage to restore the two-goal lead.
Even after the final horn sounded, Torres crosschecked Drew Doughty from behind. Doughty, who finally had tallied his first marker of the season grabbed the goon and threw his butt down to the ice. For a guy who probably should still be suspended or on ultra thin ice, the last thing Torres should do is cheap shot someone when the game is over. Obviously he did not learn his lesson from last spring. I guess he can't help it. And it is rather unfortunate, because unlike most goons in the league, Torres actually has some skill and can play the NHL level.
To conclude from the series with Phoenix, it would not surprise me to see the Coyotes...um, I mean Misfits to completely fall out of the race and miss the playoffs entirely. After reaching the finals last season, it would not look good for a team barely trying to survive their current location.
Iginla to LA is Nonsense!
Just to further add to the comments from Matthew Barry, Jarome Iginla is not and should not be a fit for the Kings. And giving up Jonathan Bernier as part of a deal for the 35 year-old, most likely rental is ridiculous to even think of happening.
Shame on you Marty McSorley!
While Los Angeles DOES give Iginla a decent chance at hoisting the Cup before he hangs up his skates, I believe he is better suited for the East and therefore I would pick Boston as his best landing spot, if he is traded at all.
Improving the Blue Line; Regehr? Bouwmeester? Mega-Deal With Florida?
If there is any area the Kings should address at the deadline, it is on the blue line. Jake Muzzin has been playing with superb confidence and is actually one of the teams' best scoring threat from the blue line, and that included the likes of Doughty and Voynov.
Perhaps a smaller deal for someone like Robyn Regehr from Buffalo, a team who should be looking to move assets at the deadline at a decent price. If Dean Lombardi is really interested in improving a skilled, yet inexperienced blue line corp, then he can take a look at Jay Bouwmeester or even Brian Campbell in Florida.
I actually like the idea of Campbell, also a recent Cup champion, in LA. Perhaps talks could get even deeper with Florida, who is just reeling in the East and looks to have very little light at the end of the tunnel. With Jose Theodore looking at the end of his career, and youngster Jacob Markstrom struggling to take control, the Panthers could use a solid young future #1 goaltender in Bernier. Just throwing some names out there, but perhaps the Kings could not only land Campbell, but a player like Tomas Fleischmann, or Kris Versteeg or maybe even Stephen Weiss? The Kings would also need a goalie to backup Quick, and throwing in backup Scott Clemmensen in the deal would make sense, but what if Florida would be willing to give up on Markstrom with the addition of Bernier? At 6 foot 6, I see him with some potential to be a solid backup to Quick, who won't need a great backup like Bernier at the moment, as he is signed for 10 years.
If Quick gets hurt, unfortunately, the Kings will simply need to suck it up without him. The organization will need to deal with that if it happens. But I still think the sky is the limit for Markstrom. He could turn out to be a pretty good NHL goalie at some point. And if he does, then the Kings could sell high on him like they will Bernier.
As far as giving up talent, pieces will center around Bernier and perhaps someone from Manchester like Brandon Kozun or Linden Vey, who I would hate to give up. Plus, they could perhaps throw in one of the young defensemen they have eating up most minutes like Andrew Campbell (ah, Campbell for Campbell!) or Andrew Bodnarchuk. Both are under 25 and have some promise.
With all this talk about Bernier needing to be traded and therefore deserves to be traded, he must understand that if the Kings cannot get what they need and should for a future stud goalie at age 25, then he will need to be patient. It may not come now, and probably shouldn't come soon at the deadline, but the Kings need to take their time and sell as high as they can on a promising young goaltender, especially in an era when supreme goaltending is at a premium.
Maple Leafs 4, Tampa Bay Lightning 2
Last but not least, the Maple Leafs finally got their act together tonight against the Bolts, actually winning a game with some considerable ease.
And finally, for the first time this season, Toronto played at 100% full strength with the lineup that was originally envisioned from the start.
Jake Gardiner stepped in and added some much-needed energy to the defense units. #51 seemed to be all over the ice at times, and also used his physical side of his game to bump several white jerseys off the puck. Hopefully he can stay healthy the rest of the way and help lead this team into the playoffs, because from where I sit, this team needs him playing hard like he did tonight, every night.
Nazem Kadri had another productive night with three assists and also came close to scoring on an impressive one-on-two effort, but drew a penalty.
While I still did not see much lack or presence of leadership on the ice from anyone, the Leafs did play a solid "team game" with all four lines skating hard, with a purpose, almost from beginning to end.
Dion Phaneuf and his defense partner JM Liles got beaten badly late in the third to draw the game a little closer, but with under five minutes left and the game pretty much in hand, with another one the following night, I can live with one glaring mistake.
The Leafs needed to win this one, and they made sure of it...as a team.
Even though the last two weeks have been brutal, the Blue and White only looked bad in one game and a third of another game. Still, with under 20 games remaining, the consistency will be seriously tested down the stretch and that comes looking forward to the home and home match up against the Boston Bruins.
Tomorrow, the Maple Leafs will return to Buffalo, in another game desperate for two more points in the standings.