Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Rubber Match, of sorts

The Kings and Flames have met twice already this season. And by some strange stoke of scheduling, the teams are playing each other three times this month in an 11 day period.

Will familiarity breed contempt?

Game one in November was a lopsided affair, Flames captain Jarome Iginla had a hat trick and Calgary downed LA 5-2.

With the way the Western Conference standings are starting to shake out these two teams could meet in the first round of the playoffs. Thus, I prefer to think of this month as a three-game playoff preview.

The Kings took game one of the fictitious mini series, a tight 2-1 contest in LA on December 7th. Game two is tonight and the final match-up will be Dec 30th, also in Calgary.

Injuries have to be a big part of the pre-game story. The Kings have been playing without Ryan Smyth for quite some time already. Then more recently Wayne Simmonds, Jack Johnson, Jarret Stoll and Randy Jones have joined him on the sidelines.

Returning to the Kings line-up is defenseman Alec Martinez, he played one game earlier in the season (opening game of the season, where he was a -2 with 16 minutes of ice time). Corey Elkins will also play again, after making his NHL debut Tuesday night in Edmonton.

Over the past few years Miikka Kiprusoff has been one of the best goalies in the league, if not the world. Jonathan Quick will once again try to outplay him and prove to his doubters that he is for real and a netminder whose status is on the rise.

While Quick and his teammates have had a great month so far, the Flames have lost three straight entering tonight. Can the Kings keep rolling and hand Calgary their fourth straight loss?

It wont be easy. Not only is LA all banged up, putting the line combinations in disarray; they're also finishing up a horrific part of the schedule where they will have played six games in nine nights. Not to mention the fact that the Flames have beaten the Kings in their last seven trips to Calgary.

No worries says coach Terry Murray. It's just another game. One team will pick up two points. Coaches usually follow that with 'whichever team wants it more.'

After it's over the Kings will fly home to begin a much needed break for the holidays.


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