The Kings’ streak of winning five of six games began when coach Marc Crawford dusted off forward Brian Willsie from the bench and started playing him regularly. Coincidence? Probably, for the most part. But it’s worth mention. Willsie only got off the bench for one of the first six games as the Kings opened the season 1-5.
“It was definitely frustrating,” Willsie said. “It caught me a little off guard. I felt like I had a good camp and I was excited about this year. It was tough sitting, especially losing the way we were.”
Willsie started to wonder if he was going to be part of the team’s plans this year.
“That kind of creeps in your mind. But I was confident that I’d get my opportunity, and once I got the opportunity the ball was in my court. I knew I had to take it upon myself to stay in the lineup.”
Willsie got his shot Oct. 16 with an assist in the upset of previously undefeated Minnesota and hasn’t left the lineup since. He played a direct role in one of the team’s biggest wins of the season, a 2-1 victory over Dallas last week, flying through the air and reaching around the goalie to score the first goal in spectacular fashion.
“I’ve never had a goal like that,” Willsie said. “I saw a couple pictures of it that turned out cool. It was nice to contribute like that in a close game, and hopefully there’s more coming.”