Monday, March 21, 2011
Kings: Time to look ahead to Calgary
By Dan Arritt
Kings (40-26-6, 86 points) vs. Calgary Flames (40-27-5, 85) at Staples Center, 7:30 p.m.
Five storylines to track:
1. Time to move on – Still some frustration emitting from the Kings’ locker room following their second consecutive loss Saturday night. The Kings had a second-period goal wiped out by a goalie interference call on Alexei Ponikarovsky, even though it was pretty obvious he was shoved into Ducks goalie Ray Emery by an Anaheim defender. The Kings ended up losing in overtime, 2-1. That loss was coming off a 4-0 embarrassment Thursday against St. Louis. It’s the third time this season the Kings were on the wrong end of a apparent bad call that cost them points.
2. Western Conference crunch– The Kings are still in the top eight in the Western Conference but just one point away from ninth. After losing to Anaheim, 5-4, in overtime Sunday evening, Calgary is sitting two points behind Los Angeles in 10th. The Flames crawled back from a quick 3-0 deficit against the Ducks to take a 4-3 lead with about 12 minutes remaining. Teemu Selanne tied the score with two minutes remaining, however, and Corey Perry scored the winner in overtime, just as he did Saturday night against the Kings.
3. Kiprusoff clipped – Calgary coach Brent Sutter announced before the Flames departed on their four-game road trip that Mikka Kiprusoff would start the final nine games in goal. Then he allowed three goals on five shots against the Ducks and was lifted after just six minutes. Henrik Karlsson did a great job keeping them in the game but it’s pretty clear the Flames will come back with Kiprusoff against the Kings. If they can score early, they might just dent Kiprusoff’s confidence even further.
4. Aim lower – The Kings took 73 shots against the Ducks but only 32 were on goal and just one made its way past Emery (two, if you count the disallowed goal). They had 22 shots miss the net and another 19 were blocked. In attempt to shake things up, Kings coach Terry Murray moved Michal Handzus up to the second-line center position and dropped Jarret Stoll back to the third line. Stoll, by the way, didn’t take any shots against the Ducks.
5. Looking for Mr. Smyth -- When the Kings were losing 10 of 12 games from Dec. 29 to Jan. 20, the best offensive player was left wing Ryan Smyth, who had six goals and three assists in that span. Now that the Kings are playing considerably better, Smyth has dropped off the planet. He has no goals in the last 12 games and one in the last 22. As the oldest player on the Kings at age 35, it begs the questions whether Smyth has run out of gas.