Stay on Your Feet
Tonight it seemed like the Los Angeles Kings took a look at some game footage from the past calender year and created a “greatest hits” mix of their best plays. Dominating performance by the top line. CHECK. Shut-down defensive hockey. CHECK. A flawless performance on the penalty kill. CHECK. Key saves and little-to-no rebounds given up by your young goalie. CHECK. An excellent victory against a divisional team that you despise with a new coach who has no business being in the NHL. CHECK.
Of course for Kings fans, the biggest news tonight was the absence of Dallas Stars forward Brad Richards. But sliding in under the radar was Coach Murray’s benching of Kings star forward, Alexander Frolov. Unhappy with Frolov’s play this season (and understandably so)… Murray held back nothing in his assessment of the soon to be Free Agent…
“It’s got to get better. You’ve got to buy into the team. That’s the only way. If we’re going to change our culture… That was a big issue last year, with me coming in here, in my meetings with players at the start of the year. We’re changing the culture, we’re changing style, philosophy, system, and we need total buy-in. That’s the only way you can become a good hockey club.”
This is the difference between a team that is young and learning and a team that is expected to make the playoffs. Last season, Frolov doesn’t get benched and the Kings try to make do with his sub-par play. This season, with the expectations high… Frolov gets a short leash. This sends a big message to him and to the rest of the team, as no one is free from the possibility of a healthy scratch. And you may have read in the last The Royal Half post that this team was due for a shakeup. Well, Kings… meet your shakeup. Frolov will be back in the lineup on Thursday against the Stars at home. Coach Murray is smarter than to keep him out of back to back games. But more than ever, in a season that was to be spent tracking the trade progress of this enigmatic star winger, the trading of Frolov might soon become a distinct possibility.
Well, that’s exactly what the Kings did tonight. They stayed on their feet, played their game and looked incredibly solid against a division rival. The Kings have ended their longest road trip of the season only 1 point out of first in the Pacific.