First off, I hope all of your Christmas Days were pleasant. I won’t wish you a happy Boxing Day, because I don’t really care. But thanks to baby Jesus and his analogous Pagan precursors for giving us all an excuse to eat, drink and give each other presents. I got a comfy new duvet (because I’m a lazy schmuck), a gnarly tea set (because I’m an old man), and a LEGO Batman (because I’m a child). I hope that you all received stuff that is better than useless too. But now that it’s all over, it’s time to get back to merciless, violent hockey, starting with the mutilation of dogs.

The Kings are coming off a loss, though they have points in their last 3 games. I’m not sure what I desire more tonight against the Coyotes, a win that involves scoring 3 or more goals, or a win that comes before the shootout. Ah, who am I kidding, the two kind of go hand in hand.

You know what else I would like? A better power play. Goals would be nice, but a PP that doesn’t suck momentum from our haunches like pot roast juices into a baster would be enough at this point. Our man advantage play has fallen to 23rd in the league at 15.4%. Phoenix’s is worse still, at 27th, but their PK is also 13th at 82.9%. My lazy math tells me that means our PP should suck about 2% less usual. Or maybe that there is only a 2% chance we shouldn’t be able to score a goal. Or maybe it just means that testing out of math in high school wasn’t really a good thing for me in the long run.

There is something I’d like everyone to pay attention to tonight. After last game there was a bit of debate about how the Kings’ forecheck differs now from the Murray days. It seems that Scribe and I are in the minority in seeing some subtle, but key differences in their pursuit of the puck. Whereas Scribe is obsessed with the F2 and nagged by the F3 and a fan of the B-52s, I would like everyone to pay special attention to the front of net presence. What I have noticed since Sutter took over is that there is always a player cycling near the crease. Obviously this hasn’t amounted to much yet, the players are still snake bitten worse than that chick’s tit in the movie Bananas, but I find this difference in the Kings’ offensive pressure to be highly encouraging. Under Murray this year, the players set up around the boards and only once the puck went to the point did someone skate towards the front of the net. Now I am seeing a player heading towards the goalie almost all the time. This won’t make up for the Kings lack of a big bodies to plant there, something I hope a trade early in the new year can rectify, but at least this diversifies the attack and helps to draw defenders away from the puck. There was a reason we always got outnumbered on the puck in the offensive zone and the defense not having to worry about the front of the net much was a big reason for it. Drawing the opposition away from the puck can be as important as your play with the puck. So take a look and let’s all compare notes after the game.

I’m feeling encouraged about tonight. It is an important one, we can either tie the Coyotes for 9th place, or let our nearest Pacific rival pull 4 points away from us.

This is your open forum. Let’s talk presents and puck.