Knights trying to move on

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:10 AM ET

There is no news on when or if Sam Gagner will be back from the Edmonton Oilers.

There is no news on when or if Pat Kane will be back from the Chicago Blackhawks.

There is no news on when or if Steve Mason will return from the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Here's the quick hits on the London Knights with the National Hockey League teams.

Gagner is in a battle for one of five centre spots. He's been given a chance to play between top free-agent signing Dustin Penner and Alex Hemsky. Gagner hasn't signed a contract yet.

The guy Gagner will likely have to beat is former first-round pick Andrew Gogliano. Gogliano is a 20-year old and he too had a chance to play between Penner and Hemsky.

The Oilers have some options with Gogliano. He has a contract and if the Oilers think he needs more seasoning, they can send him to an American Hockey League team. They can't do that with Gagner.

The better Gogliano plays, the closer Gagner gets to coming back here. Gogliano led the Oilers in preseason scoring as of yesterday.

Kane has has some flashes of brilliance with the Blackhawks. If you see Kane at all, it won't be for a while.

Mason played the entire game against the Buffalo Sabres recently, stopping 20 shots in a 4-1 win by the Blue Jackets.

OK, now move on because that's what the Knights are trying to do.

It doesn't help when a city panics because of one loss. The Knights lost their opener Friday 3-2 to the Sarnia Sting.

The feeling of unease seemed to grow because the Knights didn't produce the kind of attractive offensive hockey fans in London have been used to the last few years.

And the Knights went one for nine on the power play. Not a good thing in a city that's used to seeing their team bury teams that take a lot of penalties against them.

"It's going to take a few games for everyone to get used to each other," said Knights assistant coach Pat Curcio. "We're going to work on the power play every day until it's as close to perfect as you can get."

"Well, I'm sort of used to A. J. (Perry) a little bit," said Knights forward Pat Maroon. "But I'm not really used to the other players yet. It's going to take a while to learn what they like and how they play."

Maroon is one of the new guys on the team. There's a good reason why the Knights didn't look quite in sync on Friday. It's because they have a lot of new guys.

It's also because their power play is going to operate differently. Last year, it carved you with the precision of a scalpel. This year, it might bludgeon you like a hammer.

Much of what happened with the extra man happened with highly skilled players on the half boards, players like Gagner, Kane and Sergei Kostitsyn.

"We don't have those players, " said Curcio. "We don't have those guys who can work from the sideboard. So the puck will be going back to the defenceman and our big forwards will be pushing to the front of the net."

A power play isn't built in a day.

Most of the power play time last year was taken up by Kane, Gagner, Kostitsyn, Rob Drummond, David Meckler and Perry. Only one is back, so far.

It's also the first time in several years the Knights have not had at least two or three holdovers who were regulars on the power play.

But the potential is there.

Maroon, a massive individual, showed why the Philadelphia Flyers drafted him. He has soft hands for such a big man. He's a great passer and he can hold the puck, making him tough to move. It's obvious he can play.

"That's always been my strength," says Maroon, who developed his soft touch not only playing hockey but as a nationally recognized inline player. "I can see the ice and I had a lot of assists last year."

Akim Aliu is big and tough to move and Perry scored most of his goals on the power play from 10 feet in or closer. He had 30 on the power play. Tony Romano, another newby, this one from the NCAA, can skate and score.

There's no way to replace the 468 points that left with Gagner, Kane, Meckler and Kostitsyn.

But it's far too early to worry about how much of that will be replaced by what the Knights have now.


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