Saturday, December 17, 2011
Kings: Another streak L.A. would like to end
By Dan Arritt
Kings (14-13-4, 32 points) vs. Detroit Red Wings (19-10-1, 39 points) at Joe Louis Arena, 4 p.m. (PT)
Five storylines to track:
1. Record pace – The Kings have officially nosedived into uncharted waters. They've gone 10 consecutive games without scoring at least three goals in one of them, a drought they've never experienced in franchise history. Now they're scheduled to play a team that’s tied with them for the fifth-lowest goals-against average in the NHL at 2.23 a game. The good thing is, the Red Wings' defense takes the night off once in a while. They’ve allowed four goals or more in seven games this season, compared to four for the Kings.
2. A positive sign – The Kings are still buried in last place in the NHL in scoring but they received another long overdue goal Thursday night in a 2-1 victory in Columbus. Kings defenseman Davis Drewiske, a healthy scratch in 26 of the previous 30 games, scored early in the third period to tie the score, 1-1. It was the third straight goal by a player on the Kings who had previously not scored this season. Brad Richardson and Trent Hunter scored the previous two. Now they just need their best available goal scorer to get untracked. Anze Kopitar hasn’t scored in the last 10 games.
3. Injury updates – Kings leading goal scorer Mike Richards, who has missed the last six games with a concussion, joined the team in Detroit on Friday night but his appearance is more designed to boost the team’s moral than their goal-scoring total. Richards is not expected to play the remaining two games on the road trip and his return is still a major question mark. Another veteran, defenseman Willie Mitchell, will likely miss his fifth game in the last six with a groin injury. Mitchell re-aggravated the injury during warm-ups Tuesday in Boston.
4. Natives are restless – The Kings have three defensemen who spent a majority of their childhood in Michigan. Matt Greene and Alec Martinez were born and raised in the state, while Jack Johnson moved there as a child and later starred at the University of Michigan. Johnson has struggled in his career against the Red Wings, totaling one goal, no assists and a minus-13 rating in 14 games. Martinez, on the other hand, has thrived against Detroit in his young NHL career, posting a goal and two assists in five games.
5. Streak starters – The Red Wings have won nine of 12 since a 4-1 victory in Los Angeles on Nov. 19. That loss also marked the beginning of a major slide for the Kings, one that cost Terry Murray his job as coach this week. They owned a three-game winning streak heading into that afternoon game, but have since lost eight of 12 and scored more than two goals in a game just once. Games in Detroit have also been known to turn around the Kings' fortunes. They beat the host Red Wings last March, 2-1, then proceeded to win seven of the next nine to cement their playoff hopes.