The Kings have made very few lineup changes throughout their run to the Stanley Cup Final. They've had almost no injuries. Their chemistry has been sublime. Darryl Sutter's been rolling four lines with minimal adjustments since the postseason began.
That in mind, Simon Gagne's clean bill of health, which came in just before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, was equal parts good news and nuisance. With the Kings on a 12-2 run, including an 8-0 road record, you had to know Sutter wasn't about to make any lineup changes for Game 1 unless he had to. He even refused to answer questions about it.
"It's going to take something for me to get in," Gagne said before Game 1. "If we win four in a row, it might not happen. I am not going to wish anything bad."
But now Gagne is in, despite the Kings being halfway to four in a row. So what was that something? It sounds like Brad Richardson is hurt. But he may not be, and there are a few other reasons the move could make sense if he's not.
The Kings took a step backward in Game 2 in regards to their team game. The Devils dominated play for most of the night, only dropping their second straight thanks to individual efforts from Jeff Carter, Drew Doughty, and most important of all, Jonathan Quick. Furthermore, the Kings' fourth line struggled mightily, spending most of the night in their own zone, and surrendering the game-tying goal to the Devils' fourth line. Maybe Sutter recognizes that the team is beginning to regress and feels it's time to plug Gagne back in?
At the same time, goals have been hard to come by in this series. The two teams have combined for just 6, two of which have come in overtime. Gagne is a goal-scorer, and he might be able to give the Kings that extra bit of offence they need to hold off the surging Devils for two more wins. He could give a boost to the powerplay, which has struggled all postseason.
Sutter may also be counting on the move to inject just a little more life into the Staples Center crowd. Gagne missed the final 48 regular-season games with a concussion, so for him to step back onto the ice in the Stanley Cup Final is a pretty inspirational moment. It could bump the crowd from fever pitch to far superior British version of Fever Pitch, and possibly spur the Kings to an early lead.
Mind you, considering Los Angeles has only begun to realize they have a team in the last two months, it's also possible they have no idea who Gagne even is. Ba-zing.
- Sports & Recreation
- Ice Hockey
- Simon Gagne
- Los Angeles Kings
- Darryl Sutter