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After a break for the Olympics,..."/>

We’re Back! – Los Angeles Kings stretch run


After a break for the Olympics, we’re back and better than ever. The Los Angeles Kings are back on track and ready to roll to the playoffs for the first time in YEARS! Before we get to a discussion of where they’re at, let’s take a look at where they’ve been. The Canadian and United States Olympic teams put down perhaps the single greatest hockey game ever played. It’s certainly one of the best games that I’ve ever seen myself, and I’m not sure I can imagine a circumstance in which it was topped (maybe if the USA won…). But how did the Kings do?

Jonathan Quick – He… looked nice in the uniform? Not surprisingly Quick didn’t see a minute of play. Of course, since this wasn’t even remotely a surprise, it’s not really disappointing. He went into the games as the solid #3, and hopefully got some excellent practice to go along with his impressive silver medal!

Jack Johnson – Might have been the most impressive defenseman on the team. Of course Rafalski put more goals in the back of the net (he was a crazy offensive power), but Johnson played spectacularly, prompting many analysts including myself, to wonder why he’s so much better in the international game as opposed to the NHL game. Hopefully it’s only a matter of maturity and he’ll soon become the player we saw in Vancouver when he suits up for Los Angeles.

Dustin Brown – Brownie didn’t get any goals while in Vancouver, which might be a significant if he hadn’t been an impressive part of the team. His big time hits and powerful play opened up the ice for his teammates, and he was a vital element on the leadership side of this incredibly young team. Keep in mind that this team was the youngest in the tournament, and Brown isn’t exactly an old guy himself. It’s important to note that he’ll also have gotten some great high-pressure experience that will suit him well when the Kings eventually make the playoffs.

Michal Handzus – Played impressive hockey for an aging but surprising Slovakian team. I was hoping they’d be able to hang on for the bronze medal, but unfortunately they were bested by a determined Finnish team on the backs of an impressive third period. Regardless, Handzus put in some impressive performances and got reacquainted with the type of game he’s going to have to bring to get the Kings to the next level.

Drew Doughty – Wow. Just… wow. When Doughty made the Kings his first year we were all impressed. When he played like an experienced defenseman and was arguably one of the best rookies we were impressed. After he got selected to play for Team Canada we were impressed. When he moved up from #7 defenseman into a player closing out the final minutes in key games such as the semifinal against Finland… well… it’s hard to get impressed anymore. It’s just Doughty. The kid is an incredible stud, and he’s only going to get better. I’d vote for Lombardi locking him up for the next 15 years and calling it a day.

So that’s how the Kings ended their Olympic run. An impressive performance for the Kings across the board. The question is how will they return? They need a .500 run to the end of the season and if they play like they have been, it’ll be a locked up soon enough!

The Kings did manage to dominate the Dallas Stars last night, and ended up with a 5-1, an excellent start to the post-Olympic stretch run. Who’s next?

Up next: Nashville Predators