Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Oh, Canada...times two

Earlier today, with the entire nation of Canada hanging on his every word, GM Steve Yzerman announced Team Canada's 2010 Olympic Roster. In a somewhat surprising move, LA Kings defenseman Drew Doughty made the final cut.

And in the irony of the day department - Doughty and the Kings are in Calgary to take on the Flames tonight, a team that features the two biggest names snubbed by Team Canada - Dion Phaneuf and Jay Bouwmeester. The same J-Bow that was the most sought after guy in hockey a mere six months ago.

It's quite an accomplishment for Doughty. This is a kid that just turned 20 years old a few weeks ago. And as repetitive as it sounds at this point, it's so true...he plays well beyond his years. Absolutely amazing on the ice.

While it will probably be several more years until we know for sure, for now Dean Lombardi continues to look like a genius for taking Doughty over Zach Bogosian at the 2008 NHL Draft.

Team Canada coach Mike Babcock (once a Duck, always a Duck) said that Doughty was selected for the 2010 team over other higher profile players because he's a "difference maker." Agree.

As for the Kings, well...somebody needs to be a difference maker tonight if they plan on winning in Calgary. It was December '05 when the Kings last won at the Saddledome; when guys like Cammalleri, Demitra and Roenick were wearing the purple and black crown.

In the second odd move of the day, Erik Ersberg will get the start in goal for LA. Sure, the Kings will playing tomorrow night in Minnesota too. However, with the team coming off a long break fatigue shouldn't be an issue for Quick right now. Plus, you usually put your best goalie in there against the better of the two teams in this situation.

However, given the Kings current 1-4 slump, perhaps Coach Murray wanted to shake things up a little. Or, perhaps he wanted to give Quick a chance at the rematch tomorrow night in Minnesota (if so, why?).

Either way, goaltending probably won't be the reason the Kings win or lose tonight (I said probably!). For LA to come out on top they're going to need to get some pucks past Flames goalie Mikra Kipprusoff. They've faced him three times this year already, scoring 2 goals in two and only one in the other game.

Paging Kopitar and Frolov. Please pick up the white courtesy phones.

This is the final meeting of the regular season between the two teams...and the final meeting of this pre-playoff three game series they've been playing in the month of December. Both of the previous games this month have been 2-1 contests, with the home team coming out on top in each.

Wrap it all up and there's a lot riding on tonight's game.

Doughty is out to silence any critics upset about him being selected over Phaneuf and Boumeester.

Meanwhile, the Kings are out to stop their current three game losing streak...looking to tie up the season series with Calgary at 2 each...hoping to win in Calgary for the first time in over four years...and NEEDING two points - desperately.

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