Hockey is back, folks! Well, sort of.
With NHL training camps opening last week, and our first batch of preseason match-ups under way, I’d like to discuss a few observations I made over the weekend. I was able to attend training camp and the Sunday night match up at Staples. Low and behold I missed the better matchup of the two, with all the drama taking place in Phoenix.
Nolan’s Hit on Klesla – Elephant in the room. Let’s just get this one out of the way now. I’ve posted a video below of the hit. In case you missed it: (a) Nolan deliver’s questionably high hit to Klesla, (b) Nolan serves minor penalty, (c) exits the penalty box and get’s elbowed by Martin Hanzal, (d) Paul Bissonnette jumps off the bench to fight Nolan, thus receiving a game misconduct and being ejected.
I wouldn’t say it’s a dirty hit, but it’s definitely not clean either. It’s one of those borderline hits that’s open to lots of broad interpretation. Spoiler alert! Nolan will not face suspension, but Bissonnette will get 10 games. I think the Coyotes forward’s penalty is a bit steep, but I wouldn’t have been upset if Nolan got a 2 or 3 game suspension. Remember Torres’ hit on Stoll? They both have a striking resemblance.
There are going to be those hits that unintentionally injure, and I think that by letting Nolan walk here, the NHL is taking a bold stance. Open ice hits will always be controversial because of the speed of the game, but we don’t want to see this sport turn into soccer.
Mitchell is working really, really hard to come back – Mitchie was on the ice at practice on Sunday. Although he did not play in Sunday night’s scrimmage, he stayed on the ice after the remaining forwards left for workouts.
His shooting looked strong and he was a strong participant in each drill however towards the end of practice he was putting all his weight on one leg, which causes some concern for his return. If he’s to return by the beginning of the season, my guess is that he’s still got a ways to go.
Forbort, Sabourin, Zykov we’re impressive – What I enjoyed about this game is that the veterans really let the kids control the puck (which explains the 5-1 loss). The defense was shaky, but many of the veterans would skate through the neutral zone and hand it off to one of the prospects to set up a play.
While Voynov got credit for the lone Kings goal, Sabourin set the play up and made the goal happen. He also got into an impressive scrap and threw his weight around in the corners. See video below:
Forbort was most impressive. This was my first time watching him live. He looks like he could be the next Matt Greene with better puck moving and shooting skills. He still needs to grow into his position, 6’4″ and a lanky 212 lbs, but he plays with a Greene like physicality. He routinely threw his weight around in the corners and delivered two notable open ice hits. I’m most excited to see what he brings to camp next year.
I had mixed feelings on Zykov. He’s clearly not ready for the NHL call-up but his puck handling ability is impressive. My only concern is his size. He was routinely pushed around when he had the puck however he had one decent scoring chance. What he lacks in size, he makes up for in speed. Generally the first one on the puck on the dump in, Zykov could bring two notable things the Kings will need in the coming years (left wing and speed).
All in all, we have much to look forward to this season.