Saturday, December 26, 2009

Catching Up with the Kings

All hockey starved fans in SoCal know that today is the day. It's been more than a week since the Kings have taken the ice for real and their supporters couldn't be happier. After all, there's plenty to be excited about.

Two key players from the Kings early season success will both make their return tonight vs. Phoenix. Wayne 'the Train' Simmonds is somehow ready to go after recently having his knee operated on. If anybody can help the team shake off it's holiday rust it will be the energetic Simmonds.

Then there's that other guy...after more than a month away, Captain California (Ryan Smyth), returns to the line-up. He'll be reunited up front with Anze Kopitar, news to everybody's ears. Their fellow linemate Justin Williams and the entire royal nation will be watching intently to see if their bro-mance can resume. From day one of training camp the chemistry between those two was magical.

For the entire team, it will be back to the grind. Another game, another two points at stake.

Throughout the season we've been highlighting the importance of breaking the 82 game schedule down into 10-game segments; making things easier to digest as the team tries to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2002. To date, the Kings have been very consistent - posting 12, 12 and 13 points in the first three segments.

Today is game eight of the fourth leg, so when the week is over we'll essentially be at the half way point of the season. Let's take a look at where things stand right now:

Game 31 - home vs Calgary (Kings win 2-1, 2 points)
Game 32 - at San Jose (Kings win 5-4 OT, 2 points)
Game 33 - home vs Phoenix (Kings win 3-2 SO, 2 points)
Game 34 - home vs Dallas (Kings win 3-2 SO, 2 points)
Game 35 - at Vancouver (Kings lose 3-1)
Game 36 - at Edmonton (Kings win 3-2, 2 points)
Game 37 - at Calgary (Kings lose 2-1)
Game 38 - at Phoenix
Game 39 - home vs Minnesota
Game 40 - at Calgary

So, while on paper this looked to be a tough stretch for the Kings, they appear to be in good shape. Having already earned 10 points, getting just another two in the three games this week would give them a consistent 12 points for the 10 games. If they can come up with two victories in this three game stretch, you're talking about the best 10 game segment of the year.

The most important games are the ones bookending the week. Tonight the Kings are playing a Coyotes team that is just as hungry to make the playoffs. Not to mention it's a division rival.

Then on the 30th they'll return to Calgary, the city they just can't seem to win in the last few years. This will be their third match up with the Flames this month. So far, the home team has won both contests. With the way the Western Conference is shaking out, this is a possible first round preview for the Kings. So, saying it's important game is a bit of an understatement.

For LA to have a decent showing in April, they'll need to learn how to win big games on the road.

First up, the Coyotes in just a few hours.


To read last month's article recapping games 11-20, click here.

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