-Staples had maybe 8,000 people there for their preseason game against the Coyotes; Peter Mueller remarked, "Hey, this is just like playing at home!"
-Above you'll see young Kevin Westgarth fighting
Grendel Mitch Fritz. It was a spirited contest but I think Fritz won the fight because Westgarth tried to block every one of Fritz' punches with his face. Fun fact: Richard Clune got into a fight at the same time as Westgarth and beat the piss out of Stefan Meyer. A Kings goon that I actually like? It may just happen.
-The Kings' top line of Justin Williams-Anze Kopitar-Ryan Smyth played about 20 minutes of the game. Justin Williams had a really nice individual effort that led to a goal, toe-dragging around a sliding Coyote and then getting his own rebound to bury the goal. Ryan Smyth drew a penalty (he just has one of those faces you want to smash) and screened the goaltender on 2 Kings' goals. Kopitar just kind of skated around, he didn't do much.
-Ted Purcell was probably the Kings' best forward on the night, tallying a goal and an assist and making several nice plays to create opportunities, especially on the power play. It'll be interesting to see what happens to him, as he plays the same position on the power play that Kopitar and Frolov usually occupy (that half-wall on the left side). He also won a few good corner battles and looked noticeably bigger than he used to. He's going to make the team, I am almost 100% sure.
-Andrei Loktionov and Oscar Moller were Purcell's linemates and both looked pretty much the same: good skaters, a few nice plays, but very small and easily pushed around. The Kings should put them both in Manchester and let them grow for a year.
-Brayden Schenn had a few nice hits and Kyle Clifford used his body well, but they were kind of invisible for most of the night. Clifford was in front of the net on one play and got pushed in the back by Keith Yandle, then looked like a jackass when he dropped his gloves and Yandle just skated away. We'll see them in a few years.
-Juraj Mikus (pronounced "Mee-koosh," which is incredibly fun to say) had a few nice plays and didn't seem out of place on NHL ice. I don't remember if he can go down to Manchester or if he's going back to Europe and I can't really be bothered to do "research" or whatever it's called, but he didn't look like a dick out there so that's something.
-Drew Doughty looks bigger. He had the biggest hits of the night, including a bomb on Ryan Holweg, although he didn't really try to do too much outside of one nice rush up the ice that resulted in a penalty for the Coyotes.
-Thomas Hickey had one play where he grabbed a puck behind the net by skating backwards, collected the puck when it came between his legs and then passed cross-ice to a streaking Justin Williams. It made my dick flutter. He just looks better than Davis Drewiskie, at least for what the Kings need in a defenseman, but I won't mind if he logs heavy minutes in Manchester for a year.
-Colten Teubert, on the other hand, looked like dog shit. There was a sequence in the 2nd where he got burned to the outside by Taylor Pyatt, slashed Pyatt, punched him in the face, and then got the shit kicked out of him. He ended up with 9 minutes in penalties and gave the Coyotes a 4-minute power play. I don't know what the hell is wrong with him; it's like he thinks the quickest way to the NHL is by being a goon. Just play smart hockey, dickhead, and you'll make the league someday. Right now it's not looking too likely.
-Jack Johnson... is really good in the preseason. He had 2 goals, one a power play slap shot, the other a really nice move on a 4-on-3 for the Coyotes where he burst ahead of Kyle Turris, put it between a Coyote's legs and then roofed it backhand over Al Montoya. He was the Kings' best defenseman last night. Can he do that in the NHL? We'll see.
-Rob Scuderi... huh. He was mostly invisible, which is good for a guy like him, although he made a brutal pass that led to one Coyotes goal (update: it didn't lead to a goal, it led to a penalty shot that missed) and deflected another into his own net. I'll chalk it up to early Cup hangover.
-Joe Piskula is someone we will all soon forget.
-Jon Bernier looked... okay, I guess. I'm dubious about him supplanting Jon Quick someday because he's so small to be a pure butterfly goaltender, but we'll see. He didn't have much to do all night and 2 of the goals were fluky (the Scuderi tip and a ridiculous goal by Michael Boedker that he shot from about 1/2 an inch from the goal line... although Bernier kind of caused that one by leaving it behind the net instead of flipping it to Doughty, so I guess that's his fault).
-The Kings really only had one power play line on the game, but it worked pretty well. They had Smyth in front of the net, Moller around the net to collect rebounds, Purcell on the halfboards to run things, and Johnson and Justin Williams on the backend. I don't necessarily like the idea of having a forward playing defense on both power play units (Jarret Stoll being the other), but Williams did look pretty good back there.
-In the other game at Jobing.com Arena (nice name) the Kings fell, 4-2. Both Kings goals were by Wayne Simmonds, who could have a big year offensively if he's playing with Frolov. The Kings need to re-sign Craig Conroy and run a line of Frolov-Conroy-Simmonds so my heart can swell like the Grinch.
-There was this old couple in front of my brother and me that kept getting more and more hands on with one another the more they drank. It was horrifying. When Johnson scored his beautiful 2nd goal they immediately stood up and started making out. My brother and I thought of showing them up by going down on one another but we wanted to watch the rest of the game.
1) Jack Johnson
2) Drew Doughty
3) Justin Williams
I'll have a look at the position battles that will kick into high gear this week (with a special guest!) coming up either tonight or tomorrow.