Kings 6, Coyotes 4.
So much for an improved defense and fewer goals against...
Connie's season ticket holder partner was unable to attend the Kings preseason game so I gladly filled her spot. With what seemed like about 1,000 fans in attendance the Kings and Coyotes provided the fans with more fights in the first period than we'll probably see in the first half of the season. Even though the Kings had some first line guys on the ice the play was still back and forth and neither team really had the advantage.
LaBarbera backstopped the Kings for the first two periods and did...ok. He was tested a couple times and made some decent saves but was beaten in the first period on a bad angle while the Kings were short-handed and let in a shot from just inside the blue line in the second period. He might as well not have even been there because the shot easily whizzed by him, much to the surprise of everyone. I think I shouted, "Are you kidding me!? WHAT?!" It was almost comical...actually, it was because it was a preseason game. Barbs, don't even think of pulling that shit in the regular season.
Danny Taylor received some playing time in the third period, although he didn't get much of a workout. There was a scary scramble on his left side but he and the Kings D managed to keep the puck out of the net. I have absolutely no idea where he'll end up this season.
I spent the better part of the first period trying to remember the new kids' numbers. Hickey - 37; Harrold - 49 (what happened to 5?); Moller - 51; Clune - 56; Meckler - 58; Lewis - 61; Parse - 63; Murray - 68; Voynov - 76...what is up with all these numbers in the 50s and 60s?
I expected more out of Boyle and Johnson. Despite his size Boyle didn't seem very strong on his skates. Jack seemed a wee bit off but was more offensively minded than last season.
At first I was impressed with Greene. I didn't have much interest in reading about him during the off season so I didn't know what to expect. I guess not having any expectations can lead to being easily impressed. Greene is a big guy...and is competing with Jack for the Best Surfer Look Alike Contest. Later in the game Greene looked out of position at key moments, but he looks promising. I was also surprised with Denis Gauthier's play. Since I'm an Avery fan, I was half expecting Gauthier to recklessly throw his body at every Coyotes player all the while sporting his French Canadiae visor. However, he did not play like an asshole. Like Greene, Gauthier is a big presence on the blueline and played smart tonight. I'm anxious to see more of him.
My favorite players of the night were Oscar Moller and Thomas Hickey. I'm not sure either will make the roster this year but they will definitely be on the roster in years to come. Both players could get on the Michael Phelps diet but they didn't let their small size prevent them from playing physical. Moller is a quick guy who sees the puck well. Hickey is like a younger, cheaper, lighter version of Visnovsky. He can move the puck from end to end and did a fine job of getting the puck out of the zone and not turning it over. I think I may need to make room in my closet for a Hickey jersey...
Despite the tiny crowd, 4 goals against, and not seeing Fro, Doughty, or Bernier, tonight was s great night because Kings hockey is finally back!