New Knight caught in flux

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

It's been a difficult initiation for London Knights defenceman Kevin Montgomery.

The highly touted Montgomery, who was drafted two years ago, came to the Knights a week ago from Ohio State University. He arrived with the Knights missing a number of players because of injuries and commitments to the world junior tournament. He's had to adjust to a new environment, new teammates and a new system.

Montgomery has shown his offensive skill, but like many of his teammates, he's struggled defensively.

"It would be unfair to analyze his game right now," Knights assistant coach Dave Gagner said. "There are so many things happening to us as a team right now. He's coming to us at a difficult time. That's why you never get too high or too low during the season."

The Knights have lost four of five games going into last night's game in Sarnia. They aren't generating a lot of offensive chances and giving up too many quality chances to the opposition.

Montgomery is trying to settle into a new situation.

"After two games, I've learned this is a more offensive league," he said. "My first instinct is to move out of the zone, but I have to learn to hang back a little."

Montgomery has been caught in a whirlwind of activity.

"It's hard for me to even talk about what the differences are because it's new. I'm getting used to everything."

There's no doubt the Knights like his abilities, especially offensively. With the power play struggling without players like Sergei Kostitsyn, Sam Gagner and Pat Kane, Montgomery has seen some time on the power-play unit, including time up front on what's called the halfboards.

It's not such a strange position for Montgomery.

"Actually, I played that spot on the power play at Ohio State," he said. "It's a spot where you need some skill and you have to move the puck. It's going to take time for me to feel comfortable."

Comfort is a key word for the defenceman. Right now he's feeling his way along, trying to fit into a system he's not familiar with. He's also doing it on a team that's out of sync with defenceman playing on the forward line, junior B players filling primary roles and a revolving door of defensive partners.

Gagner said Montgomery's game will only get better once the Knights' top players get back in the lineup.

"His game will be enhanced with offensive-minded guys up front," Gagner said. "His offensive skills are evident already. He skates really well with his head up and moves the puck."

Gagner said until things settle down with the lineup, Montgomery has to do what every Knight must do.

"We just have to simplify things," Gagner said.


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