It took Kevin Westgarth a while to find a dance partner, but the New York Islanders obliged him on Saturday. Westgarth, the Kings’ enforcer, did not have a fight in his first 11 games this season but got two against the Islanders (Matt Martin and Zenon Konopka). In the first fight, Westgarth won the decision by going to the body late in the round. No, really. Toward the end of the fight, Westgarth loaded up and delivered five or six big blows to the side of Martin. I asked Westgarth if he was trying to increase the profile of “body blows” in NHL fights…
WESTGARTH: “I’ve used it a little bit over the last couple years. It yields some pretty good results. I think a lot of guys are not real interested in just standing in there with me, so I’ve got to use what I’ve got, and if that opens up, I might as well take it. Sometimes it opens something else up, and sometimes it just makes them have sore ribs. I’ve got to make sure I’m having a good impact and giving it a good go.”
Question: Has it been tough for you to find fights this season?
WESTGARTH: “Yeah. It’s been a little different. In our first little run there that we had, we’d get down in games and I would ask guys (to fight) and they would shake me off pretty quick. It was tougher, and you get a little frustrated, not getting the fights, but also I know that if they don’t want to fight me, there’s probably an element of fear there. That’s partly what I’m here for. Even if I’m sitting on the bench, it’s just to make sure that they’re not doing anything. That’s the most important part to me, to make sure that our guys are staying safe, and then obviously when the bell rings, I’m ready to go.”
Question: It’s only been a couple games, but you, Clifford and Lewis seem to have some chemistry there. What are your thoughts on that line?
WESTGARTH: “I think it’s nice. On the fourth line, we’ve been moving guys around and trying to figure stuff out, so sometimes it’s a little tougher to build that. But I’ve gotten to play with Lewie for the last couple years now, and it was great to get a couple games with him and kind of rebuild that. Definitely I feel great with those two guys. You can kind of fix anybody in, but obviously you kind of get to know where each other is and we get a little more chemistry. It’s nice to get a few more minutes. We got up early, and we were able to get a couple opportunities. I think that pays dividends in the long run. It keeps the more-minute guys a little fresher, and definitely we can develop as players as well.”