Ryan Smyth and Rob Scuderi are both out of tonight's game, one with a shoulder injury after stupidly trying to get past a defender at the blue line, the other after twisting his ankle in a scrum. (Guess which one's which.) Without Smyth the Kings are pretty screwed since they're kind of weak down the left side anyway so who knows what the hell they're going to do. I know what I'd like them to do: trade for one of Ray Whitney*, Alexei Ponikarovsky or Andrew Brunette. But they're probably not going to do that, so we'll probably have to fill it internally.
*How perfect would Ray Whitney be for this team? He's a veteran guy with an expiring contract that could slot in alongside Jarret Stoll and Dustin Brown on the third line. The Hurricanes are pretty much out of it already and will probably be selling; why not go for him now?
And in case you're wondering, this is the true genius of Ryan Smyth. See how he comes to the Kings despite my objections and then starts to play well, making you think he might actually be a productive member of the Kings. Then he gets hurt, harming the Kings' chances of making the playoffs. I can't even be happy that he's hurt now because it hurts the Kings. Well played, Smyth. Well played indeed.
The easy solution is to move Alexander Frolov up to the top line with Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams, but I don't really like that. Kopitar's success this season has come because he's been playing with 2 guys that don't need the puck; Frolov is a guy that needs the puck. Plus, moving Fro up there pretty much evaporates any chance for secondary scoring the Kings may have. I'd rather see someone like Scott Parse or Teddy Purcell up there and see what happens, but what do I know? I once ate poop.*
*I was 4, my brother told me it was chocolate. I don't like to talk about it.
Rob Scuderi is almost as important as Ryan Smyth but he's a little easier to replace. Randy "Has a Peephole in His Guest Bathroom" Jones has taken Rob Scuderi's slot. Jones has played a few games for the Kings and is a high plus/minus player. Someone like Rob Scuderi isn't going to give you a lot of plus plays that lead to goals, but he's also not going to make any mistakes that cost the Kings' goals. Jones, on the other hand, will fail to skate hard getting back and cost the Kings a goal (like he did against the Panthers to make it 0-2), but then he'll smartly jump in on the rush and tap in a rebound goal (like he did against the Panthers to make it 3-2). I don't know, I'm not a huge fan of him because I think poor Wayne Simmonds is going to wake up one morning with a sticky face and a lot of questions, but he's fine for a little while.
So yeah, the Kings are kind of screwed right now. But everybody is screwed right now; the Philadelphia Flyers are missing Simon Gagne and Aaron Asham from tonight's game. The Penguins are missing their top 4 defensemen. The Ducks are playing Kyle Calder on their top line. (Hahahaha... ahem). Everyboyd's hurt. How the Kings respond will determine if they make the playoffs.
Prediction: Kings win, 3-2 (SO). Goals by Doughty, Brown and Kopitar.