Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Kings Gameday: The Return of Mattias Norstrom

Los Angeles Kings (25-34-14, 13th in West) vs. Dallas Stars (43-24-5, 7th in West)

7:30 PST, FSN West

The Kings have had a little bit of a break after their whirlwind tour last week (where they played 5 games in 8 days). They were relatively successful, too, going 3-0-2. A lot of credit has been given to the younger guys (and deservedly so), but I think a big part of the Kings’ improved play recently has been the fact that our older guys have stepped up a little bit. I’ve liked the way Brian Willsie has been playing (who knew he could shoot?), while Scott Thornton and Jamie Lundmark have actually given the Kings a little scoring from their third line. Maybe Dean Lombardi was right after all and these guys can be legitimate hockey players.

In other news, it’s going to be interesting to watch in the next couple weeks as both Brian Boyle and Jack Johnson should be winding down their college hockey careers. Boyle’s team, Boston College, kicks off against St. Lawrence on the 24th and then will probably play New Hampshire on the 25th. If BC loses either one of those games, look for Boyle to sign with the Kings and possibly play with Manchester. Boyle is intriguing because he’s a 6’7” center, but there’s been talk of possibly making him a defenseman. He might not sign this season if the Kings decide they don’t want to mess up the chemistry in Manchester as they head towards the playoffs, but I’m really excited about this guy come training camp next season. He's definitely a project, but he could end up being one of the Kings' best players when it's all said and done. I mean, he's huge!

Brian Boyle Jack Johnson (left)
Jack Johnson and Michigan play North Dakota and then probably Minnesota on their side of the bracket, so it’s likely that they’ll lose by the 25th and then he’ll either join the team on the road or they may have him wait and open with the team at home on April 1st. I’m not as excited about this guy as other Kings fans are (meaning that I don’t get weak-kneed every time his name is mentioned), but he sounds like a guy who can be an anchor on the blue line for a couple years to come. With him, Blake, and Brown, the Kings should be a team to be feared come next season. The Kings may not want to sign him for all sorts of weird CBA issues, but I think they might just because of the publicity.

The Kings get a blast from the recent past tonight when they play the Dallas Stars. Mattias Norstrom is expected to play tonight for the first time against his old team. (The Kings played the Stars once before after the trade, but Norstrom was recovering from an injury.)

At first, I was glad that the Kings traded Norstrom; from a salary cap perspective, it was a good move, and I always thought Norstrom had gone from being underrated earlier in his career to overrated now. Still, I love that guy. If there was one player in the NHL who could be transported back to the 10th century and totally fit in, it would be Norstrom. This is a guy who once spent his off-season building a deck back at his home in Sweden. (Meanwhile, I can’t even make toast without losing my eyebrows.) For some reason, I find that endearing. On the ice, I liked Norstrom because he was not a dirty player at all but was unafraid to give a guy the business if he did something dickish.

I’m not going to be able to see the game tonight. Ordinarily I'd be pissed, but this is the first time I can remember where I don’t really want to watch a game because I don’t think I could handle seeing Norstrom wearing a Stars jersey. I mean, the Stars? I guess that makes them my favorite Pacific division team besides the Kings, but I’m not happy about it.

Oh, and I also heard that there's going to be a guy in a Guinness shirt at the game who threatened to kill Anze Kopitar, so any Kings fan who sees him should attack.


Earl Sleek said...

This LGK thread is pretty hilarious with over-the-top Jack Johnson drooling.

The guy's becoming a modern-day Chuck Norris!

dbushik said...

The drooling is over the top, but you have to be more excited about Johnson than Boyle. Not that both aren't bright points, but Johnson is so much more likely to make a significant impact. If things go really well next year, Boyle sticks as the third line center. Johnson on the other hand, still talking about what is reasonably within the "really well" threshold, ends up playing 25 minutes a night in our top pairing.

Yeah, the Johnson hoopla is a bit much, but likely deserved.

Anyway, what I wanted to mention is that Johnson if signed has to play a certain number of games before he losses a year of eligability where the Kings hold his rights (something like 12 games or something?). That is what they would want to avoid. However, it seems most likely they sign him and bring him up to the big club for a short stint before sending him to Manchester to compete in the POs. They would give him a look at what the NHL is like, introduce him to Blake as a mentor (which is, based on Johnson's comments in interviews, a big reason he likes the Kings), and then save that year of eligability while giving him some further pro experience in Manchester all at once.

Yeah, that's a lot there, but seems like what the team is set to do.

Earl Sleek said...

As I recall, I think the number is 10 games-played, which is one more than the Kings have left this year.

I remember in last year's playoffs that the Avalanche (down 3-0 to the Mighty Ducks and facing a sweep) had to make a decision as to whether or not to play Wolski, who had already put in 9 games during the regular season.

Suckers. They played him, lost a year of eligibility, and lost the game anyway.

Earl Sleek said...

Boy, that was ugly. Kings managed 10 shots on goal through two periods, and generally had trouble doing anything meaningful towards Mike Smith's net.

And yes, they may have turned it on in the third, but my friend and I noted two instances early in the period when the shot counter advanced for the Kings when there had been no shot on goal--maybe the scorekeeper just got embarrassed.

Anyway, men against boys, for the most part.

Oh, and in the 1st period just before Dallas' first (and last) penalty kill of the night, the Kings ran a "Thank you, Norstrom" spot that was hugely popular hit for Kings fans. Such a hit, in fact, that it might as well have said "Fuck you, fans (we had him signed for one more year but traded him anyway)."

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

My friend does stats for the U of M hockey team and she was talking to one of Jack Johnson's close & reliable friends. The friend said that assuming the Wolverines lose, Johnson will be in LA by the 27th. Take it as you want it.

As much as I'd love the Wolverines do to well in this tourney & for JJ to stay here in Ann Arbor, it doesn't seem likely.