Is the Age of Enforcing Over? Enter Andreas Englund

(Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

The Kings, like all NHL organizations, have respected and understood the role of an enforcer. Whether it was Dave “Tiger” Williams, Dave “The Hammer” Shultz, Marty McSorley, Kevin Westgarth, Kurtis MacDermid, or Brenan Lemieux, the Kings have employed a physical body that isn’t afraid to drop the gloves in the defense of teammates.

The game has sped up in a rapid sense. More considerable body contact is less open ice as it used to be. Sure, play along the boards is still lively; that aspect isn’t going away anytime soon. But heavy contact entering the zone or in the neutral zone is starting to fade away. As fans, you love to see the physicality, but as players, you prefer to stay healthy. Players such as Jacob Trouba are a rarity in the NHL, as well as Nikita Zadorov. It’s just not often enough that someone gets lined up anymore.

However, physicality is still a significant factor in the game, and the Kings will enter the season without an official “enforcer” or, at a minimum, a designated individual who can line a player up, keep players honest, and drop the mitts if necessary.

Englund enters a situation that he, so far, has completely taken advantage of. The Kings parted ways with Brenan Lemieux last year and Zack MacEwen in the offseason. There is a gaping hole in the lineup concerning a physical element capable of enforcing. Not that either prior player provided this capability: the Kings need a net-front opposing defenseman capable of clearing the crease and offering the support necessary for a young defenseman, likely Jordan Spence or future star Brandt Clarke, the insurance policy if other teams run around on the young defenseman.

Against the Ducks, Englund was exceptional (yes, while playing lesser competition). He was standing up at the blue line, running over Ducks players, and offering the support necessary for Jordan Spence to take risks and showcase his abilities. Englund was a +1, with 4 hits, in 15:19 TOI.

Englund has been a journeyman thus far during his career but has cemented himself as a sandpaper aspect in the lineup that keeps heads up and can drop the mitts when called upon. He racks up penalty minutes but also delivers excellent body checks and is a larger presence.

Considering the presence of a body-checking, wrecking ball on the blue line that can keep most players honest, it does put Tobias Bjornfot on the outside looking in. Bjornfot looks to be set to fill a seventh defenseman role so that he is not claimed off of waivers. Bjornfot is the complete opposite of Englund, having different sizes, temperaments, range, and overall fisticuff ability. Bjornfot relies on his skating, which is smooth. Having two more undersized defensemen in one pair that could be victimized by larger or more talented forwards acts as the coup de grâce for Bjornfot’s ability to land the third defensive pair.

With limited time left in the preseason, it looks like Englund’s position to lose.

Connor Doyle

US Navy Veteran and UCLA Class of 2024. Background in International Development Studies. Los Angeles born and raised. Following hockey for over a decade.

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