Nolan Key To Kings Game 1 Victory
The key to any championship run is depth. This was never more evident than when Monarchs forward Jordan Nolan and his linemates made the difference for the Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night.
Nolan appeared in 115 games with Manchester over the last two seasons including 40 games this year. He recorded career-highs with the Monarchs in each significant offensive category prior to being recalled by the Kings in February.
“I think when I was in Manchester, I felt pretty good about myself,” said Nolan about his time with the Monarchs earlier this season. “I was clicking a bit and getting some points and then I got called up and got tossed into a little bit of a different role which has worked out great.”
Nolan’s physical nature combined with his size and quick-release, left-handed shot were a perfect fit for what the Kings needed on their checking line.
Nolan’s game has always been physical. He has never been afraid to go after the puck in the corner and lay a check on an opponent.
“The areas I have seen him improve on, especially now in the most crucial part of the season, are his puck protection and his physical presence on the ice,” said Monarchs Assistant Coach Scott Pellerin. “He is finishing his checks. He is getting on pucks quickly. He is protecting the puck and making good plays and it was evident last night.”
In Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, Nolan and his linemates, centers Colin Fraser and Brad Richardson, were one of the best lines for the Kings. The opening goal of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final went to the Kings when a forechecking Nolan stole the puck along the Devils end wall before he centered to Fraser for the goal in the first period.
Nolan and his linemates carried their great start in Game 1 into the second period. The Devils were surging and had taken momentum back from the Kings before Nolan’s line took the ice midway through the second period. The checking line managed to not only apply pressure but keep the puck in the Devils zone for much of their shift restoring momentum back in the Kings favor.
In the third period, Sutter once again called on his checking line, this time on six different occasions, giving the line valuable ice time late into a tied game.
I admire (Darryl) Sutter for the accountability he gives to his players,” credited Pellerin. “If you play well, you will play. I think they are showing the depth of their line-up right now. I think that is why they have had so much success on the road because they do not necessarily have to match lines. They are not going to get caught out there with the wrong line on the ice against the other team’s top line. They can play with anybody.”
Nolan finished the game with an assist, a plus-1 rating, four hits and two takeaways in just over 11 minutes in Game 1. Nolan is making the most of the time he has been given with the Kings and it seems the sky is the limit.
“Right now, if you look at the skill set he has, I see he can move up the ladder and establish himself as a top six guy at some point,” said Pellerin. “But I think right now, he is doing what he has to do. He has the size, the speed and the shot. He is starting to work the areas of the game where he is able to compliment so many other players and you can plug him into so many different roles. I think you are going to see him progress. It is a great experience for him.”
After his Game 1 performance, Kings fans are beginning to realize Nolan’s value and potential.