Filling the Matt Greene-Sized Hole

The other night, I asked whether the Ducks were better with their new acquisition, Radek Dvorak. Tonight, same question, only directed to the Kings and Robyn Regehr. He was brought over on April 1st from Buffalo for two second-round picks. His career has seen him play for just two organizations until this week: Calgary and Buffalo.

Part of the attraction, according to the Kings’ GM, was the contract fit. He is in the final year of a contract that’s just over $4 million dollars, and thus will be unrestricted in the summer. That gives him every incentive to play for a new payday, but he says that for now, he’s simply concentrating on the opportunity in LA. The chance for the team to repeat their success of last year was a big part of what attracted him to the club.

Lombardi put the acquisition in context when he said this week that the team was not going after anything big. “Smaller additions” was how he described what he intended to do, with Regehr being the only pickup. Davis Drewiske, a defenseman in his late 20s, was sent to the Canadiens for a fifth-round pick.

There’s no doubt the native of Brazil (one of those born-there stories; he’s really from Saskatchewan) wanted to be in LA. He had a no-trade clause in his contract, and while he understands how demanding Coach Sutter can be, he still said to media members this week that he was “gladly accepting” of the chance that was offered to him when his agent called him about the potential deal.

What place does he have on the team? The Kings started the year saying that their team was fixed and that they would roll to another Cup, or at least they hoped to, with the roster they’d had last spring. Of course, that ignores the fact that nobody plays a season without losing someone to injury. In LA’s case, that someone has been two people, Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell. Mitchell’s case is uncertain, with the GM not being able to say that he had any specific information on him even this week. Greene is skating again. And just so you don’t say I forgot–Alec Martinez is another defenseman who has been hurt, but that was way back in mid to late February, a total of seven games lost.

For now, put Regehr in the Matt Greene slot. Physically, at least, he reminds one of Greene, though the tree trunks Regehr has for legs aren’t something you see outside of those Olympic clean-and-jerk weightlifting competitions every four years on TV. He may not be as bulky as Greene up top, but he’s pretty stout, and listed at 225 pounds. The result is a style that allows him to put a stop to the rush and turn it up the other way. He did that Thursday night against the Wild.

On the Kings’ third goal, he stood up and the blueline and poked the puck back up the other way after Minnesota had brought it in on the attack. It went to Kopitar, who passed it ahead to Justin Williams. He blasted a slapshot past the replacement goalie Darcy Kuemper, who had come on after Niklas Backstrom had left the game after 3:07 with his team down two goals. In period one.

The goal Regehr had his helper on came with about four minutes gone in period two. At first, Regerh didn’t get credit for the assist. That was changed five minutes after, and he had his first point as a King. His lifetime totals, by the way, are 30-141-171 points. He has played 933 games to date.

When asked about his fit after his first game, Regerh said, “It’s always nice to get into a game by either giving a good hit or receiving [one], and um, after that you get into it. There’s a little bit of nervous energy. It’s been a very busy last couple of days. There’s been a lot of stuff going on with getting to know new teammates and all that other kind of stuff. It was nice to go out and play. We had a great start and jumped on them early.” He was referring to those two early goals.

He said, further, that there was a lot to learn in the last day or so, because the way the Kings play is much different from in Buffalo. He said particularly that the PK is executed differently. He also cited the fact that the Kings, to do well, need to play as a five-man group. That’s how the execute their strategy.

Regehr played much of the night with Drew Doughty, and when asked to compare that player to another, he immediately jumped to Scott Niedermayer, with whom he played at the World Cup in 2004. Doughty, by the way, got in his usual 25 minutes against the Wild Thursday. Regehr says that Doughty’s greatest ability is in moving the puck up the ice.

IH asked Coach Sutter about his trust factor with the defenseman. He’d been saying earlier in the week that he liked Regehr’s size and experience. “I haven’t coached Robyn for eight years, and players, you would have to ask him if he’s a different player, but in terms of trust, obviously there’s trust. I mean, he’s an experienced guy, and he’s going to play the same way every night.”

As far as his fit, Regehr said, “I’ll do whatever they want me to do. It’s going to take a little bit of work to get up to speed, but if they want me to [play big minutes with Doughty], it’s up to me to prepare for that and be ready for that. I’m not sure what’s going to happen.”

Most likely, he’s going to take a top-four spot with Doughty, Scuderi, Muzzin, and Martinez. Make that top five, or six. It doesn’t matter. The Kings are strong on defense as they roll on, and if/when Greene comes back, it’s going to be the rare team that scores many goals against them.

Penner has a lower body injury, it seems. He looked pretty healthy after the game, though.

Scratched on the night were Martinez and Toffoli. The rookie has eight games in, with two goals and three assists.

Clayton Yellow Horn continues to tear it up in Manchester of the AHL.

You can follow me on twitter @growinguphockey. Though I’d rather you quietly read my book, My Country Is Hockey.


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