June 4, 2012
Gagne returns for KingsFirst game since last December
By CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency
LOS ANGELES - It's been five months and nine days since Simon Gagne played in an NHL game.
But it sounds like the Los Angeles Kings veteran forward will get a chance in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final Monday night.
Gagne, who has been out with a concussion since Boxing Day, could replace Brad Richardson in the Kings' lineup as they try and stretch their lead in the best-of-seven final to 3-0 at Staples Center.
By participating in the final, Gagne would be automatically eligible to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup should the Kings win. The Kings are up 2-0 after a pair of 2-1 overtime wins in New Jersey.
Goals have been hard to come by in this final and Gagne is a former 40-goal scorer, though you have to wonder how effective he could be after the long layoff.
Along with the possible lineup change, Kings coach Darryl Sutter said not much else will be different as the series shifts from the East Coast to the West Coast.
"I'll tell you the same thing we talk to the players about. It's two 2-1 games, overtime games. It could be easily 1-1, it could be easily 0-2, it could be 2-0. So what changes? I don't think anything is going to change much either way. It's still going to be good hockey games. When you watch it close, how good the detail is from your top players, that's what you'll continue to see."
The Devils haven't been out of the Eastern time zone since January and had the luxury of a luxury coach ride for their series with the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers.
"We're pretty fortunate for two series not to get on a plane, going on a bus to Philly, a bus to the Rangers. It feels good to get back into this routine a little bit, get on the road, kind of get away from home, get back to being just focused on the single thing, the game," said Devils defenceman Andy Greene Monday.
"It's not like we're not focused at home. When you're on the road, there's a lot less distractions, a lot of less things to worry about. I think it will be a big plus for us tonight."
The Devils have just two goals in the first two games, one by defenceman Anton Volchenkov and one by fourth liner Ryan Carter.
They experienced a similar level of offensive frustration at times in the Rangers series against goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. Devils captain Zach Parise said they just have to stick with it like they did against the Rangers.
"We did a good job of looking at video, how much offensive zone time we were having and really how we were dictating, we were controlling the game, we were controlling the play," he said. "We just kept preaching, 'It's going to go in, it's going to go in.' Throughout the whole series, we felt good about the way we were playing. We couldn't get anything by him, but we still felt good about the way we were playing.
"Of course, when you get shut out two out of three times, you start to get a little frustrated. They showed us a video of the offensive zone, all the chances we were having, but just that they weren't going in for us."
The Devils power play bears watching. It is 0-for-6 in the series and the Devils said they will try and simplify the attack for Game 3.