Friday, September 7, 2007
Our next stop on the season preview tour flies us into LAX.
Rudy Kelly is a writer for one of the best hockey blogs on the planet, the Battle of California.
He was kind enough to share his thoughts on the upcoming 2007-2008 Kings season
This preview does include some profanities.
We didn't edit them because we wouldn't want someone editing our stuff.
Besides, we feel bad for Kings fans.
2006-07: ( 27 - 41 - 14 ) 68 Points
Playoffs: 14th ( missed -- jokes )
1) Young forwards. The Kings have the best collection of young forwards next to the Penguins. Anze Kopitar was far and away the 2nd best rookie forward in the NHL last year, but apparently no one on the east coast paid attention. I don't want to get into a big thing with you here, but Jordan Staal's Minor in Possession was not the only crime he was involved in last year. Both Mike Cammalleri and Alex Frolov continued to develop and look to tally a point a game. (Sleeper fantasy tip!) Dustin Brown and Patrick O'Sullivan are both in their early 20's and are expected to make the leap from "Why the hell did he do that?" to "I don't know why he did that, but it was awesome!" this year.
2) Jack Johnson. Johnson is a little over-hyped, but he nevertheless projects to be one of the best defensemen in the league in a couple of years. Don't you want to be able to say that you watched him play in his rookie season? No? Oh… God, you're so hard to please. Well, at least he'll probably hurt people and be kind of a dick, so you'll enjoy hating him. Plus, he's a friend of Sidney Crosby, so he should be a friend of yours.
3) New additions. The Kings made several quiet but effective signings this off-season to establish depth on the roster. The biggest was the signing of Michal Handzus to a 4 year, $16 million dollar contract. If Handzus can come back from a knee injury that cost him last season and give the Kings the #2 center they missed last season, he may actually end up a bargain. The Kings also added the talented but oft-injured Ladislav Nagy, the lumbering Brad Stuart, and the hirsute Tom Preissing. (Ed. Note: Preissing is not actually be hirsute. I don't think Kelly knows what that means.) They all have their flaws, but they nevertheless give the Kings options that they lacked last season.
4) Lubomir Visnovsky. Visnovsky ("Lubo" to his friends and me) is one of the best defensemen in the NHL. Often among the leaders in scoring by defensemen, Lubo is also very solid defensively. Unfortunately, he's overlooked because he plays in a place people would actually want to live in, which is unacceptable amongst hockey writers. Seriously, please watch Lubo when the Kings play against the Ducks in London to kick off the season or when they play the Penguins in March. He's really good and it's a shame he doesn't get any recognition for it.
5) Goaltending. Last year the goaltending for the Kings was bad that they traded for Sean Burke and I actually thought it was a good idea. This season it stands to be better, but there's always a chance that Cloutier will play. While that's not good for me, it's great for you; you will see some of the most spectacular blunders made by a goaltender in the history of the NHL. You thought Dennis Herron was bad? Wait 'til you see our boy Dan. The best part is that he's signed for two more years! What? No, I'm not crying it's just a little dusty in here.
So yeah, watch the Kings. Fuck, invite over Steely McBeam, make a day out of it. (Just don't invite over Roethlisberger; he might try to toss you the remote and break your TV.) You can catch a brief glimpse of what it's like to live in Los Angeles and maybe, just for one glorious second, pretend that you live there. Remember: we're from L.A., and we're better than you. Go Kings.
The Kings are poop.
The only reason that Pens Nation knew they existed last year was because the Pens peed all over the Staples Center in early November last season.
They've got some big-time talent up front, with a bunch of young, talented forwards.
But their goaltending is mud.
And that one factor could sink them.
Although they are gonna get a good look at the best goalie in the AHL last season, Jason Labarbera.
Lubomir Visnovsky silently finished 8th in scoring last year among defensemen.
Rob Blake is a liability on the blue line. The only thing he is good for now is molding Jack Johnson.
Alexander Frolov may become a beast this year. He's only 25. Had 35 goals last year.
If they can get .500 goaltending to start off the season, they will gain confidence.
Regardless, the Lakers and Clippers won't have to worry about scheduling conflicts in April.
Prediction: 9th place
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