It’s funny how a six-month season, which seems so long and daunting in October, can go by so quickly. At least those of us, reporters and fans alike, who suffered through some bad hockey this season were rewarded with an exciting finish, as Anze Kopitar scored the game-winner with 53 seconds left and the Kings beat the Coyotes 3-2. I’m sure there were more than a few chuckles at the fact that Jeremy Roenick’s penalty contributed to the game-winning goal.
The Kings will finish with the third-worst record in the NHL, which matters only for draft-lottery purposes.
I’ll step away from all this tomorrow, and on Monday I’ll start a position-by-position analysis of the Kings’ roster, in its current form. We’ll take a look at each position, where it stands now, where it will stand come free-agent time and what needs to be addressed. In a few weeks, we’ll get into draft stuff and pick Lombardi’s brain a bit about that, and then free agency will be right around the corner. Also, hopefully next week I’ll sit down with Lombardi and/or Hextall and get a bit of a debriefing regarding their thoughts about the season. The summer will go fast.
Here’s a couple quick thoughts on today’s game, in no particular order. Feel free to add your own.
– I forgot to mention this to Aaron Miller today, but a couple weeks ago, when I pointed about that he had yet to miss a game, he threatened (jokingly…I think) to cause me bodily harm if he should happen to get hurt. Well, Miller’s season (and my limbs) remained intact. He made it through 82 games, as did Alexander Frolov. That has to feel good for Miller, who had gone through so much frustration over the previous three seasons with his various injuries.
– When the Coyotes had their little dust-up with Mathieu Garon late in the game, who was the King who got five minutes for fighting? Jack Johnson. Very interesting. I take two things from that: 1) he wants to show that he’s not going to get pushed around in the NHL and 2) he wants to prove something to his teammates, that even though he’s gotten a lot of attention in a brief time, he’s a guy who’s going to put the team first. Good move on Jack’s part.
– How about the Kopitar bookends? He started the season off with a second-period goal against Anaheim and finished it with the game-winner in the last minute. He finished with 20 goals, a solid total for a 19-year-old who had never skated professionally on North American ice until this season. He had a good season and he still has a very high ceiling. I’m already interested to see who his linemates might be next season.
– A quick Manchester update. Trevor Lewis scored his first goal on Friday and today, Jason LaBarbera had to leave the game with what seemed to be a knee injury. Check the Union Leader tomorrow for details on that.
– Thanks to everyone who made this a fun and productive season, particularly Mike Altieri, Jeff Moeller and company. Life in the front row of the press box would be drab without Steph, who always appreciates a good blog plug, and Mike, who abandoned us to become a radio star. And thanks to you, the readers, for finding this page and for all your support and comments. We’ll try to make it a successful summer as well.