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Monday, December 5, 2011
Kings/Ducks: This meeting has some issues

By Dan Arritt

Kings (13-9-4, 30 points) vs. Ducks (7-14-5, 19 points) at Honda Center, 7 p.m.

Five storylines to track:

1. Scoreless-fest? – The Kings are struggling to score more than two goals a game, and the Ducks can’t seem to keep the puck out of their net. Something has to give. At a time when both teams should be taking advantage of the lack of NBA games on the schedule, neither is delivering a particularly entertaining product. The Ducks came into the week tied with the Kings for 28th in the league in scoring, but have actually improved in that department lately. It's the Kings that have taken a step back, scoring two goals or fewer in five straight. What separates the teams in the standings are goals against. The Kings are fourth in the league, the Ducks are 26th.

2. Injury update – The Kings will need to find a way to get through another game without leading goal scorer Mike Richards and top shutdown defenseman Willie Mitchell. Richards went on injured reserve after taking a shoulder to the chin from Florida winger Sean Bergenheim on Thursday. Mitchell has a slight groin strain and is listed as day-to-day, but won’t play against the Ducks. More than ever, it’s imperative that other players step up. Dustin Penner scored his first goal in 28 games Saturday in a 2-1 loss against visiting Montreal, Justin Williams hasn’t scored in the last 17.

3. Line dancing – Kings coach Terry Murray reunited the No. 1 line of Anze Kopitar, Simon Gagne and Williams during practice Monday, dropping Dustin Brown back to left wing on the second line and Penner to left wing on the third. The Ducks, meanwhile, broke up their No. 1 line, moving Matt Beleskey up with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Bobby Ryan was sent to the second line with Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu. Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, hired last week to try and save the team from its downward spiral, seemed to blur the lines after a 5-3 loss Sunday night against Minnesota, saying, “The first line, if you want to call Getzlaf's line the first line, didn't seem like they were generating anything.” Ouch.

4. Doughty’s slow go – Murray didn’t beat around the bush when asked to evaluate the recent performances of young defensemen Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson. He said the duo needs to get more involved offensively and not be so hesitant to shoot. Doughty is under even more pressure to perform after missing training camp while his representatives squeezed the Kings into offering the richest contract on the team. Doughty has two goals and six assists in 21 games. It’s interesting to note, Doughty had one goal and six assists through 21 games last season, then blew up for three goals and 15 assists over the next 21.

5. Fighting words – Boudreau was once part of the Kings organization, coaching their AHL affiliate in Manchester from 2001-2005. Therefore, he’s no stranger to the I-5 rivalry that’s developed between the clubs. He summed it up by saying this of the impending match up:  “I think there’s going to be a lot of hatred on both sides. When I was part of the Kings organization, they certainly didn’t like the Ducks. So now that I’m here, I certainly don’t like the Kings.” Enough said.