Saturday, October 24, 2009

Kings Stoll the game in Phoenix

Game #10 on Thursday belonged to #11 Anze Kopitar. Fortunately, it didn't take until game #27 for Jarret Stoll to finally arrive. A solid player for the Kings last year, Stoll has been on somewhat of a roller coaster the last few months - both on and off the ice. After a much publicized break-up with his fiance over the summer he came to camp surrounded by rumors that he'd be out of action for an extended period of time due to arthritis related injuries. However, he was in the line-up on opening night and has played every regular season game so far. All wasn't perfect though, with Stoll netting only six assists in the first 10 contests - partially prompting his demotion to the third line prior to Thursday's game.

He didn't make a stink about it. Kept his head down and pushed ahead. Then, today he received a new linemate in "fresh up from Manchester" Scott Parse. Perhaps it was just the shot in the arm he needed. Stoll played his best game of the year by far against the Coyotes on Saturday night, posting his first two goals and being involved in the action almost every time he was on the ice. Parse also picked up his first NHL point, assisting on Stoll's second goal.

The aforementioned line changes on Thursday also pushed Wayne Simmonds up to the top line. Wayne the Train kept charging. He scored to put the Kings up 4-2, his third game in a row with a goal. Obviously, he is holding his own on the top line. However, his linemates aren't doing too bad either. While Smyth only has one goal in the last five games, he continues to rack up the assists and make his presence felt shift after shift. Kopitar put up another three assists and now leads the NHL in scoring. You read that LA Kings player leads the NHL in scoring.

Stoll's former linemate, Dustin Brown, is heating up too. He matched Stoll's two goal night by scoring two of his own, giving him eight points in the last five.

Besides picking up a win against a division rival, the game had to bring additional satisfaction on two levels. There was payback for the embarrassing opening night loss back on October 3rd. Most importantly, the Kings found a way to to solve the riddle that is Bryzgalov. He has to be the goalie Kings players have dreaded the most the last few years. The guy has flat out owned the team, both at home and on the road. Four goals tonight, two on the power play, was not the way he has played opposite LA in recent seasons.

Every game is a test. And most nights the Kings are tested by their opponent's top players. For the last two games they've had an up close look at two of the best power forwards in the game - Dallas' Brenden Morrow and Shane Doan of Phoenix. These are two of the most underrated players in the league. It's a pure pleasure to watch them long as they aren't beating the Kings. Morrow was held off the score sheets Thursday, while Doan had his typical great performance against LA with two goals tonight. Both games were Kings victories.

The Columbus Blue Jackets head into Staples Center Sunday night with some similar themes brewing - a top flight forward in Rick Nash, redemption after losing to the Jackets last week...and LA will be looking to steal another two points from a conference rival.

If the Kings can rinse and repeat their accomplishments from tonight, it will be mission(s) accomplished.


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