Just when it appeared that things couldn't get much better for the Kings, Los Angeles got even more good news on Monday.
Already leading the Stanley Cup Final 2-0 after a pair of overtime wins in New Jersey, the Kings now expect to have Simon Gagne back in the lineup for Game 3 Monday night in Los Angeles. The forward is likely to make his Kings playoff debut, The Los Angeles Times reported after Monday's morning skate.
Gagne, 32, has been out since suffering a concussion on Dec. 26 against Phoenix, missing the final 47 games of the regular season and the first 16 playoff contests. The Kings have won 14 of those 16 postseason games, so they haven't exactly been struggling in his absence.
But Gagne could give a boost to the club in a couple critical areas. Even though they earned victories in the first two games against the Devils, L.A.'s offense has struggled. They scored just two goals in each game, and both times had to go to overtime for the second goal.
The Kings have also struggled mightily on the power play throughout the postseason, managing just six goals on 77 opportunities. That's a success rate of just 7.8 percent, well below even the historically bad power play Boston overcame last year when it won the Cup despite an 11.4 percent success rate with the man advantage.
Gagne is expected to see limited time at even strength, skating alongside Colin Fraser and Jordan Nolan on the fourth line in place of Brad Richardson. But Gagne will probably pick up some extra minutes on the power play, where his skill and finishing touch could make a difference.
Gagne has proven capable of providing a postseason spark before. In 2010 while playing for Philadelphia, he returned from a broken foot in Game 4 of the second round against Boston with the Flyers trailing 3-0 in the series. Gagne scored four goals over the next four games, including an overtime winner in his first game back and the game-winner in the third period of Game 7 as Philadelphia completed its historic comeback.
Gagne finished with 9-3-12 totals in 19 games that postseason as the Flyers reached the Cup Final before falling to Chicago in six games. He also had 5-7-12 totals in just 15 games last year with Tampa Bay as the Lightning pushed Boston to seven games before being eliminated in the Eastern Conference Final.
In the regular season, Gagne has scored 40-plus goals twice and topped the 30-goal mark four times, but concussions and other injuries have limited him in recent years. He had 7-10-17 totals in 34 games before his latest injury this season.