As we did the other day with Earl Sleek we were able to track down a Kings blogger kind enough to share their thoughts on the Kings. Below are the five questions I asked KMS2 from Purple Crushed Velvet.
If you are interested in my answers make sure to check them out here.
- The Kings came into this season by playing a two game series against the Anaheim Ducks in London, England. What was the reaction to these games in L.A.?
There's usually not a lot of reaction in LA to any hockey games. I live in LA County and work in Orange County so most of my coworkers are Ducks fans when they're playing well. They gave me a hard time during the playoffs, but I hardly heard a squeak from them at the start of the season. KingsCast, the official Kings fan podcast, put together a watch party in Century City for the first game. Despite the game being at 9:30am PST a group of hardcore fans showed up to for the breakfast buffet, $1 Bud Lights, free Grolsch beer, and a silent auction. I knew of another watch party in Long Beach put together by Matt who runs Life in Hockeywood. The buzz was high for Kings fan, but I think it was mainly because the season was starting and it meant that we had a chance to start fresh with several new faces. For those who could fork over the money I think it was a great way for them to catch their team in London and possibly make a vacation out of it. However, for the majority of the fans, I don't think many of us really cared about the game being in London because we would rather have a financially reasonable option to see a game.
- Kings GM Dean Lombardi made a big splash in free agency signing Ladislav Nagy, Michael Handzus, Tom Preissing and Kyle Calder (I feel like I'm missing someone). None of those players has done what was expected of them this year. How much of the blame is being directed at Dean Lombardi? Who do you feel deserves the blame?
Yep, you're missing Brad Stuart. I think most people think those players haven't done much because they're not leading the Kings in scoring. Handzus and Nagy definitely started out slow. I think it was a bit risky to bring in Handzus since he hasn't played a full season in quite some time. He's usually on the main PK line and his game has definitely picked up as of late. Nagy played well for a couple games after he was a healthy scratch for two consecutive games. Every now and then I'll watch a game and think, " one day soon he'll really start scoring" and then the next game he's almost invincible. I think he was also a questionable pick up in the off season but he's put up numbers in the past (50+ points in each of the last 4 seasons) and I can only guess that Lombardi thought he would mix well with fellow Slovaks, Visnovsky and Handzus. Nagy has played well with Frolov but now that Fro is out with an injury I think it could mess up Nagy's momentum. I don't even know what to say about Preissing. I guess he's ok, but he just got scratched so that Klemm and Modry could be in the lineup...so that can't be good for his confidence. I've been the most impressed with Calder and Stuart, but still neither of those guys are top line players. I don't know where the blame should be. Part of me wants to say that it's difficult to bring in five new guys and expect all of them to have a huge immediate impact but the other part of me thinks I'm being too nice and forgiving. It's obvious that with the young talent the team has DL needed to be cautious with his spending now so that he doesn't shoot himself in the foot in the near future.
- After a really hot start for Michael Cammalleri he has cooled off a bit. He is still tied for the team lead in goals (12) and he is second in points (21). Do you expect Cammalleri to get back on his torrid pace or does his current stats more resemble his ability?
It's a really good thing that the arbitrator didn't award him the $6 million he asked for because otherwise I don't think Cammy would have been re-signed. I was very surprised when Cammalleri went on a tear and was leading the NHL in goals at the beginning of the season (10 goals in 10 games). I actually didn't think he was going to match his numbers from last season (34G, 46A) but he seems to be trying to best them. He has been getting more goals this season, which doesn't surprise me because he does have a really good shot. I can't remember who else was on his line last season but this season he's been playing with Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar. That line leads the Kings in scoring: Cammalleri 24 points, Kopitar 21 points, and Brown 20 points. Brown only had 46 points last season (in 81 games) so it looks like barring any injuries he'll have a career season. Cammy, Kopi, and Brownie have been playing very well together and there's a lot of chemistry among them, which has been evident lately when they just seem to know where the other ones are on the ice. The Kings as a whole haven't been playing well lately and so if the team can pick it back up I wouldn't be surprised if Cammy's scoring picks up as well. I don't think he'll break his record from last season but he'll probably come close.
- It has become apparent that Jason LaBarbara has distanced himself from the others and is the starting goalie for the Kings. Is he the long term answer for the Kings or will they be in the market for another goalie?
I think LaBarbera will be the man until Jonathan Bernier is ready to be the number one. Two seasons ago when the Kings had Garon and LaBarbera I thought Barbs was the better goalie until he had a family emergency that knocked him off his game. I was glad to see him back with the team this season because I think he's capable of being the number one netminder. In October I heard Luc Robitaille briefly talk about the future of the Kings and he mentioned that he had faith in LaBarbera and that as long as he can play like we know he can, then the team will be fine with him. Seeing how the Kings didn't pick up Bryzgalov I doubt we're in the market for another goalie. But then again, with the goalie troubles the team has had in the past several seasons we could very well be back in the market in no time.
- I have heard rumors that Anze Kopitar might be on the trade block (if so please send him to Buffalo) is there any truth to these rumors? If not do you anticipate a shakeup and if so who would be some possibilities to be traded?
WHAT?! I haven't heard any rumors! As far as I'm concerned and with what I've read (or maybe haven't read) it seems like Kopi is our Crosby. I don't expect DL to give up Kopi unless the Kings are offered an unbelievable deal. I think the fans would riot if Kopi was traded because he's definitely become a huge fan favorite. I'm sure there are other quality players who are on the trade block. Considering the Kings traded away their captain, Mattias Norstrom, last season, I'd say almost anyone is fair game. Of course, I wouldn't mind if Armstrong, Thornton, Willsie, Dallman, and, especially, Zeiler were traded, but that's just some wishful thinking on my part. ESPN's Rumor Central listed Rob Blake as a possible mover before the trade deadline and I wouldn't be surprised if he asks to be traded to a Stanley Cup contender. He seems to be a good veteran presence and mentor to the younger players, especially Jack Johnson, but I think we could do without him.