Kings Dump a Couple Players, Snag a Couple Points
With the undefeated Minnesota Wild coming in hot to Staples last night, everything looked primed for the Kings to party like it was 1987 by tying that season's horrendous opening record. To make that party even more likely, the Kings activated career-backup J.S. Aubin from the injured reserve and threw his ass in goal in place of shell-shocked Jonathon Bernier. Hung out to dry nightly via awful defensive protection, Bernier was sent down to his junior squad to protect his development and confidence. Also sent packing was son-of-the-ex-coach Brady Murray, another youngster in need of more ice-time outside the NHL.
All the remaining Kings decided they would show up tonight, instead of merely throwing on a jersey. Out-hustling the Wild for most of the night, the Kings battled all the way to a shootout and won it, earning a 4-3 victory and avoiding '87's dubious milestone. Dustin Brown looked like the polished power forward the organization hoped to develop when drafting him in round one, Lubomir Visnovsky played the type of game that earned him an "A" on his jersey for this season, and Brian Willsie - yeah, Willsie - even scored himself the title of third star-of-game. The squad as a whole applied continuous pressure and played with remarkably more heart than the first six games.
But the toast of the newly faithful fans - and (more literally) those packed into Joxer Daly's Pub last night with me - is none other than Slovenian studmuffin Anze Kopitar. He blasted a third-period shorthander, only to later outdo himself with a ridiculous game-winning shootout goal.
One solid effort in an 82-game season is nothing to carry on about. But to hungry Kings supporters, who have had little to savor thus far, tonight tasted delicious.
AP photo by Kevork Djansezian