KINGS VS CALGARY FLAMES GAME PREVIEW

Time to get this winning streak rolling.

Tonight the Los Angeles Kings look to extinguish the Calgary Flames on home ice for their 3rd consecutive win.  Having already knocked off the Florida Panthers and Detroit Red Wings, in a thrilling overtime game last Saturday, the name of this game will be energy.  After yet another 5 day lay-off, the Kings main goal is to grasp tightly to the momentum built from their last two victories, a tough challenge given when you are winning you generally want to keep playing.  This being the Kings’ 3rd four day break in as many months, they have played fewer games (25) than any team in the league besides the New York Islanders, who have also played 25 games.

This makes the Kings’ last place standing in the Pacific Division more tolerable.  With a win tonight, the Kings can tie the Coyotes, Sharks and the Ducks with 32 points (assuming they all lose tonight), and still have a game in hand on Phoenix, 2 games in hand on San Jose and 6 games in hand over Anaheim.   If the Stars lose, the Kings would be 2 points behind Dallas with 2 games in hand.  These games in hand won’t last forever and thus the Kings must take advantage of it while they have them.  The Flames, who have just 26 points through 28 games, serve as the perfect lubricant with which to grease our gears on a Kings team that is ready to return to early season form.

How you ask?

The Kings are getting healthy.

Alexei Ponikarovsky will play his first game since November 6 when he broke a wittle finger.  All healed up, the Kings’ shutdown unit is back, intact.  Willie Mitchell, also out since November 6, could return as soon as Monday for the road game in Detroit.  As we saw through the first 15 games of the season, a healthy Kings team is a sleeping giant; a juggernaut ready to suffocate and demolish those who stand in their way.

A few words about the first enemy in our path.

Calgary has lost three of their last four games, the lone win coming in a shootout against Minnesota.  Our three game winning streak is their three game losing streak, so it works out for everyone, three being a lucky number and all.  The return of the Poni-Zus-Simmonds shutdown unit will be welcome as Flames Captain and future King Jarome Iginla is starting to find his game again with 3 goals and 6 points in his last 5 games.  He has a 5 game point streak and a 2 game goal streak that the Kings will be happy to snap for him.  There go those 3s again.  So unfortunately for everything to work out, Iginla will have to score tonight, but his single goal won’t be enough to turn the tides of fate.  The Flames may as well take the broach pin to their eyeballs right now and save themselves the sorrow.

Keys to the game:

- Drew Doughty.  A two game winning streak is no coincidence when Doughty has put together two of his strongest performances of the season.  For a third win to come, Drew Doughty must build on his last two games.  The pairing with Rob Scuderi is a blessing…

- Which brings us to Jack Johnson.  While the teams hopes and dreams do not hinge on Jack in the same manner they do on Drew, it is high time for Johnson to elevate his own game.  I don’t even care about the offense at the moment.  It would be nice, but Jack needs to settle down and focus on making the safe, smart play every time.

- Ponikarovsky.  We can’t expect him to be up to full speed, but a broken finger and month away from the ice hasn’t made him any smaller.  Use that big frame, get the puck deep and keep it there.

- Face-offs.  This is one area where the Kings and Flames are fairly evenly matched.  End-zone draws have been a problem in the past for the Kings.  Win the draws, play keep away and frustrate a team that is going nowhere fast.

Always and forever,

GO KINGS GO!



Categories: L.A. Kings News

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