I remember a few years back, I would go through the Kings’ schedule at the start of the year and make my own predictions for the outcomes of games. Every time I saw that big, red “C” I would automatically shudder and jot down an “L”.
Remember when Calgary was a tough, nasty and above all fiercely talented team? Remember when the Kings’ just couldn’t buy a win against those jerks from the north? I believe this was around the time when I first started getting tapped into the bogus rumor mill… anyone else recall the fanciful darts thrown nowhere that we were getting Jarome Iginla for Bryan Smolinski, another roster player and some draft picks?
Those days, thank god, are LONG gone.
In 2010, the opposite is true. Though the Kings played a tough game that went as long as possible last night in Vancouver, there are few excuses for a loss against this Calgary Flames team, luck of the draw or a massive Los Angelean brain aneurysm being the best.
Let’s look at the Flames for a minute.
Offense: Well… there’s still Iginla, and not much else.
Defense: Calgary finally had Phenough of Dion. Nevertheless, the defense in Calgary is one of the strong points, that is if Bouwmeester can prove he is worth the big bucks the Flames paid him. Last year, not so much. Still, there is some serious toughness in Regehr, Sarich and Giordano. The Kings forwards will take some punishment tonight.
Goaltending: For the life of me I can never decide whether Kiprusoff is a world class goalie or an earth shattering faker. He’s good, he’s bad. Hot, cold. I’ve seen premenstrual mood swings more steady than Miikka.
The Flames will be without (C) Matt Stajan, (C) Daymond Langkow, (RW) David Moss and (LW) Ales Kotalik.
Their expected lineup is:
Alex Tanguay-Olli Jokinen-Jarome Iginla
Niklas Hagman-Brendan Morrison-Rene Bourque
Curtis Glencross-Mikael Backlund-Tim Jackman
Craig Conroy-Brett Sutter-Stefan Meyer
Notice old rat boy Raitis Ivanans is not expected to skate against his former team, perhaps due to the little tweety birds still circling his skull.
On the Kings side of the ice, the same lineup from last night will skate in front Jonathan Bernier. That spells bad news for the anemic Calgary offense. Bernier may have already played a few NHL games in his young career, but in the big picture, tonight is the start of the rest of his life.
I will be looking for another hungry performance from eye popping rookie Brayden Schenn, sure to build on the confidence of many quality minutes played last night.
The Kings should hit their stride early in the game. As is typical in back-to-back games, even this early in the season, fatigue will play a factor as the clock winds down in the third. The Kings need to take the offense hard to the Flames as soon as possible. This is a team still somewhat reeling from being unable to score against Edmonton on Thursday night in their season opener. The Kings can not allow the Flames to build their confidence and must turn any doubt in Calgary into outright depression.
How fun would it be to ruin two other team’s home openers in consecutive nights? Let alone insane Canadian teams. Or is that some strange bad karma for our own home opener at Staples on Tuesday?
GO KINGS GO!