After people recovered from the inherent surprise of learning that Simon Gagne will make his Los Angeles Kings playoff debut tonight, many asked: is it really a good idea? Should a team that’s 14-2 in the postseason mess with the formula?
Well, if history tells us anything, it’s that Gagne might just make a difference. One odd result of his unfortunate concussion history (plus being on some good teams) is that Gagne’s been something of a poor man’s version of Willis Reed return a couple times already. Here’s a look at the results of his recent unexpected encores.
First game of postseason
Most recent game played: Dec. 26, 2011
2011 playoffs (Tampa Bay Lightning):
Gagne first played April 13-29 (two goals, five assists in eight games) then suffered a possible concussion. He returned on May 14 and played through May 27, collecting three more goals and two more assists in seven games, including a goal in his first game back.
2010 playoffs (Philadelphia Flyers):
Gagne played April 14-20 (two assists in four games) and then didn’t make another appearance until May 7.
From then on he played until the Flyers were defeated in the Stanley Cup finals (June 9) and he was a big reason they got there. He had four goals and five points in four contests during Philly’s historic comeback against the Boston Bruins, including two game-winners (one series-winner). He also scored a goal per game in the first two contests of the Montreal series before slowing down. Still, he was worth having around overall; Gagne had nine goals and one assist in 15 games back from the injury and had 12 points in 19 postseason games in 2010.
Career playoff numbers:37 goals, 22 assists and 59 points in 105 games, with 11 power-play goals and seven-game winners.
Considering how well he’s performed after “swooping in” to previous playoff years, it goes from a sensible if mildly risky move to an absolute no-brainer. In fact, the New Jersey Devils should probably make it a point to keep an eye on him in Game 3.