One of the biggest offseason changes for the Los Angeles Kings was the addition of forward Milan Lucic.
After setting a career high in points during the 2010-11 season, Lucic’s numbers have been on a very slow decline and on June 26, the Boston Bruins dealt him to Los Angeles in exchange for goaltender Martin Jones, defenseman Colin Miller and the 13th-overall selection in last June’s NHL Entry Draft (who turned out to be defenseman Jakub Zboril).
The speculation quickly began on what this would mean for the native of Vancouver, who had spent his whole career in the Bruins organization.
At first glance, the partnership between Lucic and the Kings made a ton of sense on paper. LA had just missed missed out on the playoffs last Spring and was looking to regain its identity as a heavy hockey team. Lucic clearly fits that style of play.
And now as the first quarter of the NHL season gets ready to come to a close, the divisional races are starting to round into form and the players who could impact those races are starting to to rise to the top. It appears that Lucic’s impact is making a difference in Los Angeles.
Anyone who follows the Kings closely will know that Lucic, like most players who are trying to establish themselves at a new address after a long stint at an old one, got off a bit of a bumpy start.
The Kings stumbled out of the gates with an 0-3-0 record and Lucic shared in those struggles. He was held pointless in those first three contests and compiled a plus-minus rating of minus-three and he was held to just two shots.
But as LA started to shake out of their early-season doldrums, so did Lucic. He registered an assist along with a pair of shots in 15:20 of ice time as the Kings defeated the Wild, 2-1 in overtime, for their first win of the season. He would go on to collect points in six of his next seven games (two goals and five assists).
Coming into Tuesday night’s action, Lucic had goals in three of the Kings’ last four games, including a game-winner Saturday night at home against the Islanders. In total, he has 10 points (5g, 5a) and with a plus-five rating in 17 games played as it appears that he’s starting to settle in with the Kings.
He’s also brought that edge with him to Los Angeles that he was so well known for in Boston. He dropped the gloves in a marathon fight against Josh Manson of the Anaheim Ducks in an exhibition game back in September and he was charged with a match penalty when he retaliated against San Jose’s Logan Couture following a low check in the season opener back on October 7.
“It’s really different,” said Lucic to the Boston Globe when talking about the difference between playing in LA and Boston. “I didn’t expect it to be this different. I think the main thing is I was with the same coach the whole time in Boston, so you know exactly what to expect. You know the routine…”
But judging by his play and the play of the team over the past month, Lucic and the Kings appear to finally be putting their adjustment period in the rear-view mirror, which will only translate to the success that is starting to show in the standings.