Jim Fox's lowdown on the first period
Editor's note: The Kings aren't televising tonight's game against the Senators, but FS West TV analyst Jim Fox has agreed to share his thoughts and insights from rinkside in Ottawa, the city where he played junior hockey. This is his second post. To read his first from today, click here.
OTTAWA -- The lineups:
Since I spent so much time with my family over the last couple of days, I didn’t spend much time at practice. Saturday night after the Montreal game, the team held its annual "Rookie Dinner." Back in the day we had "initiations" for the rookies.
When I was a rookie, they did the regular shave job on me: they took a big patch out of the middle of my head and also took half of each eyebrow. Along with being seared by a blow torch from Marcel Dionne and the haircut, they took it easy on me. They didn’t strip me and tape me inside a grocery cart and then put me in the team hotel elevator and push every floor, the way they did to some of the other guys. I got off easy. Nowadays, the team just goes to dinner and the rookies have to pick up the tab. I think the rookies today get off easy!
On Sunday everyone got together at a local restaurant to watch the Super Bowl. Mike "Neuheisel" Altieri, the team's vice president, communications and broadcasting, won the pool. That bought a lot of "chien-chauds," also known as hotdogs.
Davis Drewiske is expected to play in his first NHL game. He was signed as a free agent out of the University of Wisconsin. The scouting report from Nelson Emerson in the Kings' hockey department is that he's a positional, keep-it-simple player. He is known for blocking shots and for his on-ice intelligence. Coach Terry Murray is expected to go with seven defensemen, with Peter Harrold once again starting at right wing. The option is there to move Harrold back to defense.
Cory Clouston will be coaching his first NHL game, taking over for Craig Hartsburg. He didn’t have any ground-breaking instructions to his team. He used a hockey cliché: he wants his team to be tough to play against. His explanation for this style was to be aggressive on the forecheck and apply pressure to the Kings' defense and disrupt as many breakouts as possible. I will keep an eye on how many turnovers the Senators create, or how many times the Kings execute an effective breakout.
There's something a bit different in Ottawa -- it’s something the Kings experienced in their preseason tournament a couple of years ago in Austria. After a Senators goal, fans are encouraged to yell out the scorer's last name along with the PA announcer. They just went through a pregame practice. It worked very well in Europe and added a lot to the fan participation portion of the game experience. Let's hope that the fans don’t get any chances to actually do it during the game!
Like most Canadian teams, the Senators have a permanent anthem singer. In Ottawa, Lyndon Slewidge is an Ontario Provincial police officer by day, anthem singer at night. He sings the "Star Spangled Banner" in English but splits "O Canada" between English and French.
Murray gets Michal Handzus vs. the Jason Spezza line, but the Senators get early pressure.... It’s a homecoming for Kings defenseman Sean O’Donnell, who grew up in the Ottawa area.... Drewiske gets through his first shift with efficient puck movement paired with Kyle Quincey.
It was a very quiet first eight minutes. The Senators outshot the Kings, 6-3. Not much happening at either end and not exactly the high-energy start you would expect for the Senators, who are playing their first game under a new coach. Since Coulston just joined the team a day ago, not many system changes are expected. The Senators have kept it simple to start.
The Senators go with Spezza vs. Anze Kopitar after a TV timeout.... Jarkko Ruutu is not playing as "hungry" as he did earlier this season against Buffalo.... I have to mention it again: Canadian crowds are extremely quiet during play. So far it has been very quiet in Ottawa.
Spezza, the young Senators center, probably has more pressure on him than any other player. He has underperformed this year and his name has come up repeatedly in trade rumors. Ottawa General Manager Bryan Murray (the older brother of the Kings coach) was very open at practice Monday introducing the new coach. He bluntly said that if things don’t change soon, there will be some player changes at or before the trade deadline.
Daniel Alfredsson just received a well-deserved ovation recognizing his 901st game in a Senators uniform. He is one of the true professionals in the sport and he will never be criticized for lack of effort.
The best chance so far: Ottawa forward Chris Kelly gets a loose puck for a breakaway, goes to a backhand move and doesn’t even get a shot off.
The first power play to the Kings: Brian Lee off for holding. The Kings are six for 13 in the last four games.... A stuff chance by Patrick O’Sullivan with three seconds left in the power play but not much happened with the man advantage.
A quick change with the puck right in front of their own bench costs the Kings a too many men penalty. The Kings player coming on didn’t get involved with the play, but the official ruled that he still had an impact on the attack by the Senators just by taking up space in a skating lane. It was bad timing more than anything else. For the first time the building has a little life as the Senators get their first power play.
Nick Foligno gets the start up front with Alfredsson and Spezza, in place of Dany Heatley.... Kings rookie defenseman Drew Doughty with a blocked shot takes the pressure off the Kings.... Heatley gets second unit power play duty up front. Just as the Kings get back to full strength, Wayne Simmonds gets a break down the right wing. It's the best chance for the Kings with three minutes left. Followed up with a left wing shot by Brad Richardson as the Kings pick up their play as the game goes along.
The Kings "managed" the first period very efficiently.... With the Senators expected to come out of the gates flying trying to impress their new head coach, the Kings controlled enough of the opening period and they never really had to weather the expected storm.
In his first NHL game, Drewiske was solid and poised, paired with Quincey -- 4:18 of ice time with one blocked shot. As mentioned earlier, he is the type of defenseman that plays a very quiet game. He did not look out of place after 20 minutes.
Doughty led everyone in the first period with 8:22 of ice time … Stay tuned for more.
-- Jim Fox
Jim Fox is in his 19th season as the Kings' TV color analyst on FS West. He spent his entire 10-year NHL career with the Kings, and at the start of this season ranked eighth on the club's scoring list, eighth in assists and ninth in goals. He has also been the Kings' director of community relations. He lives in Redondo Beach with his wife, Susie.
Photo: Ottawa Senators' Chris Phillips, left, hits the Kings' Dustin Brown during the first period. Credit: Sean Kilpatrick / Associated Press