I always had the feeling, the unsupported thought in my mind, like I had the general impression that McNabb and McBain together was a good pair. I had positive memories but nothing specific, just a position like “hey I’m sure they looked good, they never looked bad that I remember.” Then, the San Jose stadium game was on the other night, Kings Sharks outdoors and lo and behold who’s the defensive pair in that victory? Well its McNabb and McBain.
Further, that was win number 7, part of an 8 game winning streak. McNabb and McBain were a defensive pair for the last 7 of those 8 games won in a row…
The first game of the eight game winning streak was the game in Tampa, where Martinez got his bell rung. We won that game, and that gave a slot in the lineup to McNabb. Mcnabb and McBain got paired together and we promptly won seven in a row with them together.
Then, we lost one game to Ottawa, 1 to 0.
Then the trade, and we got Sekera.
Suddenly McBain was forgotten. But not by me, goddamnit.
I am not saying that pairing caused, or was the major reason for the win streak. What I do know is that a balanced righty-lefty on D pairs is the optimal, and with the pairing of Regehr and Doughty, Muzzin and Greene, McNabb and McBain we had that righty-lefty balance.
McBain had been playing a few games while McNabb sat; McBain was paired mostly with Regehr prior to the Martinez injury, and also some with Muzzin due to in-game needs like PK etc., but he was never paired with Martinez. When A-Mart got hurt, McBain continued getting power play time, McNabb did too but a bit more. McNabb was paired with other partners, including Doughty on the PP, but McBain less so.
I never understood why Sekera was going to be a solution to the right-side #2 D hole. I think it is mostly overlooked due to the major contract problems overshadowing it, but for me the Martinez 4 million was based on his ability to play the right side in addition to his natural left side. That experiment started the previous season with some small success, but in 2014-2015 it became clear that A-Mart is not strong enough on the wall to survive a playoff-style forecheck. Too many dumpouts, too many giveaways, and too many chances around the crease. If you doubt that, then you would have felt Sekera was redundant. But he wasn’t; he was just an undersized guy with speed and excellent passing, used to digging the puck out on his off-side and able to withstand pressure and make outlet passes.
These are things that A-Mart needed to improve upon, if possible, but did the Kings really want to bet their “win now” season on a player who was very good on his left but not very good on his right? Should the Kings assign that player to his weakest side? If we put A-Mart on the right, do we not lose 2 positions? He’s lost to the left, and now the Right side is weakened; is that a winning move?
No. It wasn’t. Sekera was about 2 million too much, but other GMs are willing to pay and Edmonton wanted another Lubomir Visnovsky type.
And so, McBain. Me, I’m glad. He’s cheap, he’s familiar, he has a history of success with his most likely pairing partner. He’s a right shot with Power Play ability and a cannon, and he fills the holes while letting A-Mart stay on the left. Yeah boyeee…