Coach Andy Murray has the Kings playing a hard-working brand of hockey that seems to allow each individual the chance to excel in a specific area, thus allowing the team to prosper. Many of the young Kings have shown flashes in the first two games. Here is a quick rundown of some early impressions:
Frantisek Kaberle- This young defenseman has been a pleasant surprise. While Jere Karalahti’s Visa problems have kept him in Europe, Kaberle has taken advantage of the situation and provided the Kings with an offensive defenseman without sacrificing the other end of the ice. Kaberle is smooth with the puck and makes good passes. He never seems to be in a hurry to dump the puck, instead he waits the extra second to find the open man. His defense is not stellar, but he has combined with Garry Galley to provide a solid tandem that is talented with the puck.
Aki Berg- Aki Berg has returned as a physical player who is alot smarter with the puck than he used to be. Berg is paired with Sean O’Donnell who is an adventure every time he has the puck, including a direct pass to Pavel Demitra on Monday for a goal. Berg has shown a little more offense, but the teeth of his game is in the corners where he has made it a point to punish opposing players. Aki seems to still be adjusting to the NHL game after the year off, but clearly has potential to be a top defenseman.
Jason Blake- Mini-Blake is not a pretty man and he does not play a pretty game. He is however, a high-energy player who makes you tired even watching him. He is around every puck and in addition to his hard-nosed style, he can move the puck. He is destined to be a fan favorite with his fronetic style of play. Blake’s agitating style has made Ian Lapperierre’s move to the third line easier, and his desire to do the dirty work in the corners and in front of the net makes him a unique player nowadays.
Brad Chartrand- Chartrand is an interesting player. He is just 5’10” and 185 pounds, but he is tied with Steve McKenna for the highest bench press on the team (335 lbs.). Chartrand hustles, but against St. Louis he dished out some huge hits against much larger players. Chartrand is a solid defensive player who complements Jason Blake well. Between the two of them, enforcer Steve McKenna will be a busy man- as evidenced by the two of them going after Kelly Chase on Monday and leading to a McKenna/Chase scrap.
Notes- Some Kings players started their minor league seasons with a bang- Defenseman Richard Seeley and forward Jason Podollan each had a goal in the opener for Lowellm while Donald MacLean added two assists… Pavel Rosa opened his season with three assists for the Long Beach Ice Dogs.