Thursday, November 10, 2011
Kings: Colin Fraser to debut vs. Canucks
By Dan Arritt
Kings (7-5-3, 17 points) vs. Vancouver Canucks (7-7-1, 15 points) at Staples Center, 7:30 p.m.
Five storylines to track:
1. Welcome mat – Makings his debut for the Kings will be forward Colin Fraser, who hasn't played in nearly eight months after undergoing ankle surgery. Fraser was activated from injured reserve earlier Thursday, replacing Scott Parse (lower-body injury) on the active roster. The Kings acquired Fraser from Edmonton over the summer in exchange for Ryan Smyth, who asked to be traded back to the Oilers, the team he broke into the league with. Don’t expect Fraser to light up the score sheet, as he’ll occupy a fourth-line role, but he could bring some needed energy to the lineup.
2. Penner’s production – It took 32 games, but Dustin Penner finally produced his first multi-point game as a member of the Kings. He had two assists Tuesday night against visiting Nashville, helping the Kings to a well-deserved 4-3 victory. The Kings are paying Penner $4.25 million this season, fifth most on the team, and expect him to produce multi-point games on a weekly basis, not monthly. It will be interesting to see if Penner plays with the same focus and intensity as he did Tuesday night, or reverts back to his invisible self.
3. Quick time – The Kings ended a five-game losing streak with the victory against the Predators, but goalie Jonathan Quick is still overdue for a win. After winning five consecutive games earlier this season, he has gone winless in his last five for the first time since the end of the 2009-10 season. In his last six starts, Quick is allowing an average of three goals a game with a .900 goals-against average, well below his career numbers. He hasn’t exactly been stellar against Vancouver in his career either, bringing a 3-6-1 career record against the Canucks into the game.
4. Good on the dot – One area the Kings have been strong the last few games is in the faceoff circle. Jarret Stoll and Anze Kopitar have teamed up to win a majority of their drops, giving the Kings extra possession time. Stoll won 61.9 percent of his faceoffs against the Predators and has been better than 50 percent in four consecutive games. Kopitar won 68.4 percent of the draws against Nashville and has been over 50 percent in three straight. They’ll be up against one of the better faceoff artists in Manny Malhotra, who has won 59.2 percent of his drops this season.
5. Powered up – The Canucks have been relaxing in Los Angeles the last four days, likely drawing up new ways to score on the power play. They went 5-for-6 with the man-advantage Sunday night in a 6-2 victory in Chicago, the first time they scored five power-play goals since January 2007. The Kings will counter with one of the top penalty-kill units in the league. Don’t be surprised if this game comes down to a battle of special teams.