Friday, December 2, 2011
Kings: Injuries come into play as Habs visit
By Dan Arritt
Kings (13-8-4, 30 points) vs. Montreal Canadiens (10-11-5, 25 points) at Staples Center, 12:30 p.m.
Five storylines to track:
1. No Richards – The Kings will need to make due without their leading goal scorer, Mike Richards, who is expected to go on injured reserve this weekend. Richards suffered an upper-body injury during a collision with Florida Panthers forward Sean Bergenheim late in the second period of a 2-1 victory Thursday night. Richards was playing as well as anybody on the team lately, scoring nine goals in the previous 10 games. Fortunately for the Kings, they have enough depth at center to plug the hole for a while, and left wing Dustin Penner is ready to come off injured reserve after missing the last nine games with a hand injury.
2. No Mitchell – The Kings also took a hit on the defensive side when Willie Mitchell left the game Thursday night with a lower-body injury. The rest of the blue liners did an admirable job picking up the slack against the Panthers, now it looks like it'll be up to Davis Drewiske to hold down the fort against the Canadiens. Drewiske will certainly be fresh, having played just one regular season game this season and spending the rest in the press box as a healthy scratch. He did play well in his only appearance in Philadelphia, so this is a good chance to prove that's more the norm. The Kings will also have a relatively fresh face in goal, as backup Jonathan Bernier is expected to start for just the fourth time this season.
3. Milestone for Murray – Kings coach Terry Murray enters this game with 499 career victories. With a win against the Canadiens, he would become the 17th coach in NHL history to reach 500 victories and the second in his family. His brother, Bryan, now the general manager of the Ottawa Senators, is seventh on the list with 619 career victories. Murray’s predecessor with the Kings, Marc Crawford, is also in the 500-win club. Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff is the last coach to get 500 wins, earning his last January.
4. On the hot seat? – These are not good times in Montreal. Even the Ducks beat the Canadiens this week. One of the most successful professional sports franchises in North American history, the Habs dropped their fourth game in a row Thursday night in San Jose, scraping together a point by surviving until the shootout. After losing seven of eight to start the season, Montreal appeared to right itself with a four-game winning streak beginning in late October, but are 5-6-3 since with just two regulation victories. With a Stanley Cup-winning coach back on the market after the firing this week of Randy Carlyle in Anaheim, Jacques Martin must be looking over his shoulder.
5. Cammalleri’s back – It’s interesting to see what’s come of the Michael Cammalleri trade. Cammalleri scored 34 goals for the Kings during the 2006-07 season, one of the few bright spots on a team that finished second-to-last in the Western Conference. He was traded a year later in a three-way deal that ultimately netted the Kings the No. 13 pick in the 2008 draft. They used that to acquire defenseman Colten Teubert, who they ended up trading last winter for another former 30-goal scorer, Penner, who has yet to score a goal this season. Cammalleri, meanwhile, scored 39 goals in his first year in Calgary and 50 the last 2-plus seasons in Montreal.