The word of the week: Survival
Los Angeles Kings (Last week: 3-2)
The Kings started their week (which I start on Wednesdays because I like confusing you) confronted with the doomsday scenario: Drew Doughty got a concussion. It happened last Wednesday when
big meanie Erik Cole and Doughty ran into each other in the first period. The Kings were suddenly faced with a particularly brutal stretch of seven games in 10 nights without the services of their best player. How would they respond? ...Not bad, actually.
The person who had to step up the most was Jack Johnson, the Kings' other young, talented defenseman. Johnson has the offensive game but does not have nearly the defensive acumen of Doughty. Still, he played admirably in Doughty's absence. Johnson has been averaging over 25 minutes a night since Doughty went down, including more than five minutes a game on the power play.
The Kings were also bolstered by the long-awaited return of Matt Greene. The rugged blueliner finally returned from a shoulder surgery that sapped him of his strength and he didn't skip a beat; he's received about 20 minutes a night in the three games he's played since returning.
Overall, the Kings are surviving without Drew Doughty, which is all you can really ask of them. There's no one person that can replace Doughty's unique skill set, but Johnson and Greene are combining to at least make sure the Kings aren't exposed. Still, though, the Kings need Doughty back. He'll hopefully be back Saturday night against the struggling New Jersey Devils.
Anaheim Ducks (Last Week: 2-2)
The Ducks survived the beginning of the season as well. They played seven of their first 10 games on the road and had to rebound from a biblically bad 3-game skid at the beginning of the season. The Ducks have rebounded thanks mostly to their top line: after starting the first three games of the season pointless, the trio of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan have all averaged over a point a game in the seven games since.
The Ducks have also rebounded thanks to Teemu Selanne. The ageless wonder has 10 points in 10 games and looks like a kid on the ice. Selanne's numbers last year looked poor mostly because he suffered one freak injury after another last season, but his point per game average was actually very good (.88). Selanne is a power play wizard and still has the jump to score at even strength. Seriously, it's weird. He doesn't even scar. I think Selanne might be Dorian Gray.
Everyone knows that the Ducks are going to go as far as their top 2 lines can carry them. They don't really have the defense or bottom-6 to win a game so it's going to be up to Getzlaf, Selanne and co. to outscore the opposition. They are still allowing waaaaaay too many shots (their 39.7 shots/game is the worst by a team since at least 2000), but they can survive if they can score. Now that the Ducks have gotten their big road swing out of the way, they'll be able to get the favorable match-up most of the time. I'm not saying the Ducks are going to make the playoffs or anything but... I'm not sure how to finish that. They will miss the playoffs.
Tonight: LA Kings @ Dallas Stars, 5:30PM
Friday: Anaheim Ducks vs. New Jersey Devils, 7PM
Saturday: Anaheim Ducks @ SJ Sharks, 7PM; LA Kings vs. New Jersey Devils, 7:30PM