Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Flames/Kings - A Playoff Preview?

It seems almost fitting that if the playoffs were to begin today, LA would play Calgary in the first round. Although the Kings haven't been there in a long time, some of the most memorable playoff games in franchise history were against their former Smythe Division rival. They could call it Back to the Future and get a corporate sponsor for the 7-game series. Somebody is probably working on it right now.

That's not until April though, so there's plenty of time to work out the details. In the meantime, here's a quick recap on the Kings 2-1 victory last night at Staples Center:

* Jarret Stoll continued his solid play this season, picking up the game winner versus the Flames. For a guy that was feared to possibly miss most of the season when training camp began, he sure has turned it on lately. Solid play at both ends of the ice.

* Back in October when Scott Parse was first called up I wrote an article about him (click here) to acquaint those not following the kids in Manchester. If you didn't read it then, read it now. He has an interesting background and you can see why he battles so hard every shift, including a beautiful goal to open the scoring last night.

* Anze Kopitar went another game without a goal - and didn't even pick up an assist this time. Meanwhile, his linemate Justin Williams, played one of his stronger games of the season. So, what's the problem? Well, its a left side issue...and the Kings are very thin at LW. Kopi is playing a different game right now than he was earlier in the season and apparently needs a strong winger to play with him. While Williams is having a fine individual season, he isn't the player that gets Kopi going. Simmonds doesn't fit with those two guys because he plays "the wrong side", so he isn't an option. And lets face it, Kopi and Frolov have zero chemistry together. With the Kings going 5-3-1 since Smyth has been out, the Kings just need to ride it out. It looks like Smyth will be back around 12/26, so patience is the key at this point.

* If there was an unsung hero last night, it was Jonathan Quick. The Kings offense wasn't generating much activity at the other end of the ice and was facing a top notch netminder, Miikka Kiprusoff. Quick brought his A game and did what he had to do to keep the Kings in front throughout the third period. Unfortunately, he didn't get one of the three stars of the game...again!

* Ivanans had a nice scrap in the first period and then somehow managed to stay out of the penalty box the remainder of the game. (to watch video of the fight, click here)

* The defensive difference in this game vs. the one on November 21st vs Calgary was evident from the start. Some of that can probably be attributed to Rob Scuderi returning to the line-up. He might not be a name you hear much about when he's playing, however you sure notice when he's not in there.

This was the first of three games versus the Flames this month. Sort of like a best of three mini-playoff series. LA now leads 1-0. Game two is next Thursday in Calgary, followed by another contest there on 12/30.



note: there was a gala for Luc at Club Nokia on Sunday night to celebrate his Hall of Fame induction. Several current and former Kings were in attendance. If you missed it, click over to my twitter page to read the stream of updates I was posting throughout the event.

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