Solid entrance.

In case you missed it earlier today, the Los Angeles Kings have activated Simon Gagne for tonight’s game three tilt with the Devils in LA.

Now, it appears as though Gagne will be replacing Brad Richardson on the Kings’ fourth line which is a bit of a curious swap. Richardson has been hurt recently though, and it could be as simple as an injury replacement. It wouldn’t necessarily make sense to have a player who hasn’t played since December 2011 replace a guy who has put in useful minutes on the back of the depth chart.

In many ways, the move puts the Kings at odds with what has got them to this point in the post-season — pure physical domination — as Ken Campbell of The Hockey News points out.

… with Colin Fraser flanked by Richardson and Jordan Nolan, the Kings fourth unit uses its size and tenacity to create loose pucks. It gives the Kings a huge advantage in terms of physical play, the way it did when Nolan knocked Devils defenseman Andy Greene off the puck and set Fraser up for the first goal in Game 1. In fact, you could argue that goal set the tone for the series.

It’s doubtful that Gagne, with all his experience and offensive talent, is going to provide the Kings with that kind of physical presence. And since he hasn’t played a game in five months, will he be able to provide the 11:37 and 10:56 of solid ice time that Richardson gave the Kings in the first two games of the final?

If it is the result of a Richardson injury, fine, but if it’s a simple ‘gut feeling’ or the desire to get Gagne some time in the final, it’s a head scratcher.

Simon Gagne is a fine hockey player, regardless of how injury prone he is, and certainly has the potential to make an impact on the scoresheet. His slot over top of Richardson who plays a much different game is curious, but the depth chart is not set in stone. It wouldn’t shock me at all if he was flipped with Dwight King at some point in the night as King provides a more physically imposing presence and Gagne’s skillset is more in line with that of Jarret Stoll who centers the third unit.

It’s a luxury for a team that has steamrolled through the playoffs to this point to plug in a guy with 37 playoff goals into the lineup, but it could be a move which throws the wrench in the gears.

Comments (5)

  1. This may be a stretch, but could be to get his name on the Cup (if they win)? He only played 34 games in the regular season. If I remember the stipulations correctly, you have to either play 41 games in the regular season or 1 Finals game.

    • Entirely possible though there are exceptions made — Marc Savard last year for example — for injuries and given Gagne’s concussion history I’m sure that would have been done either way. Plus, Darryl Sutter doesn’t strike me as the truly sentimental type.

      I guess what I’m trying to say is, who knows?

  2. While it is correct that they play completely different styles, I dont think you can argue that Richardson is a better player. And if I were coaching, I want to ice the best players on the team. Whats wrong with having an extra scoring threat, regardless what line he plays on…

    • I’m not necessarily arguing that Richardson is a better player — I don’t believe that’s true — I just think that Richardson’s game is more conducive to the things that earned them all the wins they’ve racked up to this point.

      Though the point is moot after that game. Spectacular effort from LA.

  3. I think he was thinking that Gagne would help out on the PP if it fizzled early. As that wasn’t the case, he could run 3 2/3rds lines most of the game and let Simon play a couple shifts each period without costing the team much.

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