Monday, March 7, 2011
Kings: Time to look toward the Stars
By Dan Arritt
Kings (36-25-4, 76 points) vs. Dallas Stars (35-23-7, 77) at Staples Center, 7:30 p.m.
Five storylines to track:
1. Teflon team -- Here’s another one of those bounce-back games that falls into the critical-win category. The Kings were frustrated in a 3-1 loss Saturday afternoon against the visiting Canucks, blaming the referees for allowing the winning goal to stand after what they felt were two penalties on the play. The Kings have dropped to eighth in the Western Conference standings but can pass the seventh-place Stars with a regulation victory. The Kings haven't gone two straight games without earning a point since Jan 18 and 20.
2. And then there were 11 -- Columbus has lost four in a row to drop out of the playoff race, joining St. Louis and Colorado as teams that were still in contention around the holidays but have since fallen like Dominoes. Minnesota, Anaheim and Nashville remain one point behind the Kings but each has lost their most recent game, blowing a chance to move into a playoff spot. After this one, the Kings hit the road for games in Detroit, Columbus, Dallas and Nashville.
3. Time for another jump start -- The Kings just haven't got it going on the power play this season. They’re 19th in the league in efficiency but have been in the lower half of the NHL rankings for the entire season. They looked especially stale against the Canucks, failing to score on all six extra-man opportunities. The solution seems simple, create more havoc in front of the net. With the addition of Dustin Penner and more power play time for Alexei Ponikarovsky, the Kings hope to accomplish that.
4. Back to Bernier -- It’s looking more like the Kings have a No. 1A goalie in Jonathan Quick and a No. 1B goalie in Jonathan Bernier. Kings coach Terry Murray has tapped Bernier on the shoulder for this critical game. Bernier is coming off a 1-0 shutout Thursday against visiting Phoenix. Many believed Bernier deserved the start Saturday against Vancouver but Murray went back to Quick and he was solid, allowing just two goals, including the hotly disputed one in which he claimed he was interfered.
5. Fight Night II? -- The last time Dallas visited Staples Center pugilism reigned in the 3-1 victory by the Kings. Matt Greene chased down Dallas left wing James Neal, a response to Neal leveling teammate Jarret Stoll. Kings rookie Kyle Clifford later established himself with a one-punch knockdown against Brandon Segal, and Adam Burish finished things off with a little nudge of the hip that sent Kings defenseman Drew Doughty head first into the boards just a few days after he returned from a concussion. If you can remember that game, you can bet the Kings and Stars do too.