Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Kings: Hoping to hang another loss on Detroit
By Dan Arritt
Kings (36-25-5, 77 points) vs. Detroit Red Wings (39-19-8, 86) at Joe Louis Arena, 4:30 p.m. ET
Five storylines to track:
1. Somebody has to win: When these teams met last week, the Kings were thoroughly handled in a 7-4 loss at Staples Center, allowing seven consecutive goals in a 7-4 loss. The Red Wings have since matched their longest losing streak of the season by dropping their last three games. The Kings bounced back to defeat Phoenix, 1-0, but have since lost two in a row. They haven’t lost three in a row since Jan. 17-20.
2. Shot slippage: The Kings have gone backwards in their "shot mentality." In the last three games, they have totaled 23 shots on goal or fewer, including a total of 15 shots on goal in the last three first periods. Before those games, the Kings had 42 shots on net in a 4-3 win against Colorado and 39 in the 7-4 loss to Detroit. As coach Terry Murray likes to say, you can’t win if you don’t shoot.
3. Score one for Clifford: Kings rookie forward Kyle Clifford scored the prettiest goal of his career in a 4-3 overtime loss Monday against Dallas, hitting the top right corner after taking a long pass from Trevor Lewis near the blue line and skating in on goalie Kari Lehtonen. Clifford was also the main instigator in a scrum that led to Steve Ott spearing Clifford with the blade of his stick, earning a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct.
4. Jack has gone backwards: Since defenseman Jack Johnson inked a seven-year $30.5 million extension Jan. 9, he has scored just one goal, against lowly Edmonton. More disconcerting is he’s minus-5 in the last four games and doesn’t have a point in the last five. Johnson is a key player on the power-play unit and when he’s not clicking, neither are the Kings. In the last two games, they are 0 for 10 with the man advantage.
5. Wings seeing red: Detroit has had three days to ponder their collapse against the Coyotes, a game in which they blew a three-goal third-period lead and lost in a shootout, 5-4. Detroit coach Mike Babcock called out his club after the loss, questioning whether it was truly a championship-caliber team. Expect those words to hit home with the veteran Red Wings, who aren’t far from falling into rebuilding mode if they don’t win the Stanley Cup this season.