It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

At first I was a bit skeptical about the $11.50 ticket special that the Los Angeles Kings held for the month of January. Having spent full price on my tickets as a Half Season Ticket Holder, I was a bit annoyed that now anyone could sit anywhere at Staples Center for just $11.50. But tonight, as the arena was packed full of people (it was an actual sellout, not just an “announced” sellout) I realized the genius of the $11.50 ticket. It allowed actual hockey fans who couldn’t afford it normally to come see a Kings game. There were none of the regulars in my section tonight, but everyone in their place knew their Kings hockey… player nicknames… that 19 Year Old Drew Doughty is the future… that Kyle Calder has hands of stone. And it made the game fun. There was a definite excitement in the air tonight… and for every reason… that was one hell of a game!

Kings 2, Flyers 1

Welcome to the NHL Wayne Simmonds. Sure you’ve been playing for the Kings all year, but if there was any game that you’ve “arrived” in, it was this one. Simmonds has looked very strong the last few games and tonight, during the 2nd period, he was rewarded with some 1st line time with Anze Kopitar and Patrick O’Sullivan. And you know what… he didn’t look too out of place. Give this 20 year old a few years and 20 extra pounds… and the Kings will have one of the top 2-Way players in the game.

The always great Battle of California had a posting today asking if 19 Year Old Drew Doughty was still in contention for NHL Rookie of the Year. They mention that players like Kris Verteeg, Patrik Berglund or Steve Mason may have passed him in the hype for the Calder trophy. To that I say… what if rookie goaltender Jon Quick has emerged ahead of his teammate?

Quick did in 1 game what LaBarbera could never do.
Stop a breakaway.

I was skeptical at first. Going with a tandem of 22 year old Jon Quick and 26 year old Erik Ersberg was a bold move by the Kings… a move that can work out for the teams that have the guts to do it. But the Kings franchise has never been about taking this huge step… it’s always been about trading for “stop-gap” goaltenders. Now the Kings are moving forward with 2 of their own… Quick drafted in the 3rd round in 2005 and Ersberg signed as an entry-level free agent in 2007. Jon Quick impressed tonight. He was solid in a way that LaBarbera never could be. Plus he stopped the Flyers both on a penalty shot and in the shootout. And he made an unbelievable stop on a wraparound attempt from NHL goal leader Jeff Carter. He did the job that an elite NHL goaltender is supposed to do… he kept the team in the game.

Have you seen my offense?!?

Offense is the real concern right now for the Kings. But that is the tradeoff a team must make for improved defensive responsibilities… a lack of offensive opportunity. The Kings definitely got their chances tonight, but only Wayne Simmonds was able to score in regulation. Teddy Purcell looked very strong tonight, as he has over the past few games. Brian Boyle was a bit more physical in his return from Manchester and Alexander Frolov was invisible for most of the night. Putting back together the Kopitar, O’Sullivan, Brown line wasn’t the answer for offense tonight. And Kyle Calder continues to skate on the 2nd line. Oscar Moller will be returning soon from the world juniors, so that could add another offensive player to the mix.

But here is the question to you loyal readers and Kings fans… do the Kings need to go out and trade for a top 6 forward? And if so… who should that player be? Is a dominate top 6 player even available? Are the Kings willing to lose a piece of their future to get close to that 8th playoff seed this year?

The trade deadline is March 4th, 2 months from today. Your move Dean Lombardi.

The Royal Half has been a Los Angeles Kings fan since 1988 and a Half-Season Ticket Holder since 2002. He has seen the following goaltenders play in person for the Los Angeles Kings… Kelly Hrudey, Grant Fuhr, Byron Dafoe, Jamie Storr, Stephane Fiset, Felix Potvin, Cristobal Huet, Roman Cechmanek, Mathieu Garon, Adam Hauser, Jason LaBarbera, Barry Brust, Sean Burke, Dan Cloutier, Yutaka Fukufuji, Jean-Sebastien Aubin, Erik Ersberg, Jonathan Bernier, Jonathan Quick, Ben Scrivens and Martin Jones. You can follow The Royal Half on Twitter @TheRoyalHalf.