I did things a little different today. The Royal Half contacted me about exchanging 5 questions and I agreed to do it. After the jump are Chris’ answers to my hard hitting questions. Click here to check out the questions he asked me about the Coyotes. I hope you nejoy this new blog and I hope to do some more of this in the future!
1) How has the play of Quick helped the Kings get where they are today/what do the fans think of Quick? The Kings have gone through many, many goalies over the past few years, are Quick & Ersberg the answer?
I think to understand what an amazing season Jon Quick is having you just need to look to the sophomore disaster that is going on with last year’s Rookie of the Year and wundergoalie Steve Mason. Mason has totally fallen apart this season and is basically playing behind the same Columbus team as last year. Sure, Jon Quick struggled at the start of this season, his GAA and SV% were not where the team wanted them to be… but he was still getting wins. And that’s all that matters. This Kings team seems to play very confident in front of him and that’s all you can ask from an elite goaltender. Fans on the whole love Jon Quick. Sure, the goaltender is always the first one that fans revolt on… but for every goal that Quick lets by that King fans are unhappy with… he makes 4-5 unbelievable stops that no Kings goalie of the last 10 years could have made. I really feel like Quick is just starting to show how good he is and will turn it up even more in the 2nd half of the season.
As far as Quick & Ersberg being the answer? It’s still hard to tell. Quick is going to play a lot of games this year if the Kings want to make it into the playoffs and even then it will be hard to know if he’s the real deal. The true “answer” is in the drafting abilities of the Kings GM Dean Lombardi and his scouts the last few seasons. Behind Quick in the AHL is Jon Bernier and Jeff Zatkoff and behind them is current Canada World Junior Martin Jones. For a franchise that has been known for its laughable goalies… the future between the pipes is looking quite good.
2. As a Kings fan, did you think they would be battling for first in the division when the season started? I told many people to watch out for the Kings this year and they basically laughed at me.
If anyone says they had the Kings pegged for first in the Pacific at the start of the year… they are a horrible liar. Since Lombardi took over in 2006, Kings fans have seen rock bottom but they have also seen the first management team to ever have a “plan” for the Kings rebuilding. Lombardi has built this team from top to bottom and Kings fans have seen the growth of the team especially over the past 3 years. This was definitely a “make it or break it” year for Lombardi. If the Kings had faltered out of the gate, I think his job would have been in jeopardy at the end of the season. I think you telling your friends that the Kings would have a good season this year makes sense… but I don’t think anyone expected this kind of a season… including myself who had them sneaking into the playoffs as a 7th or 8th seed. There is still a long time to go before the end of the season… but you could see the Kings as a 4th or 5th seed come April.
3. What do you hate most about playing the Coyotes, a team that is in a fairly similar place rebuilding and standing wise?
Well last season I hated playing the Coyotes entirely… because they were supposed to be as bad as the Kings yet they beat the Kings 4 out of 6 times. This season my biggest fear with the Coyotes is Dave Tippet. I think the move to bring him in as coach was the best move they could have made. Tippet was an assistant coach for the Kings the last time they made the playoffs and a lot of fans were very upset when he left to coach Dallas. Then those same fans were even more upset when Dallas beat the Kings up for 6 years. Tippet is an excellent coach and with what looks like a great foundation in Phoenix… I have a feeling there might be a great rivalry coming up over the next few seasons. I’m curious to see what the “bad” team will be in the Pacific for the next few years. Because even though they are in last place, I can’t imagine it’s the Ducks.
4. Which player should the Coyotes watch out for? Is there a player that might be underrated that we should keep an eye on? Or is there a young up-and-comer with their AHL team to look for, someone that may get a call-up or make the team next season?
Obviously Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty have made their marks on the league this season and can really no longer be deemed “underrated.” But the real up and comer on the Kings right now is Wayne Simmonds, a tough, defensive player with great offensive instincts. He’s the kind of player you love watching every shift and he’s only 20 years old in his 2nd NHL season. Because of the injuries over the last few weeks, Kings fans have been able to see a lot of the young AHL talent play for the Kings. And while there may not be one breakout star… there are some solid hockey players in the organization. I think the next impact player will be this years first round pick, Brayden Schenn. He almost made the team out of training camp and was even signed to a 1 game contract for a game versus Vancouver when the Kings were short on players. I’m really looking forward to seeing him play next year for the Kings.
5. How will Ryan Smyth’s return to the lineup affect the Kings? Will he be a force right after returning to the line-up?
The power of the mullet is strong with this one. I totally expect Smyth to pick up where he left off. Although the Kings still haven’t disclosed what his injury was… my Half Season Ticket Holder Buddy and I went and checked out the Kings practice yesterday and Smyth and Kopitar looked like they haven’t missed a step. I’ve always been a huge fan of Smyth and I was so happy when the Kings traded for him… but as seems to be the theme with the Kings this season… I don’t think any of us fans expected him to be this good. He does so many little things that you just can’t teach and the chemistry with Kopitar has been beyond excellent. I’m really looking forward to his return… and I’m glad it’s in such an important game. The Kings are gonna take 2nd place back from you Desert Dogs!