Flames attempt to continue recent mastery of Kings
Thursday, 12.09.2010 / 7:30 PMFLAMES (12-14-2) at KINGS (15-10-0)
TV -- SNET-CGY (HD), FS-W (HD)
Last 10 --
Calgary 4-4-2; Los Angeles 3-7-0
Season series --
It's the second meeting of four this season and the first in Los Angeles. The teams last met in Calgary on Oct. 10, a 3-1 Flames win, which gave them 14 victories in the last 17 meetings between these clubs dating back to 2006-07. The last time the Kings and Flames split the season series was 2005-06, the Flames having taken at least three of four every season since.
Big story --
The Kings set a franchise record with a 12-4-0 start, then went 3-6-0 to drop them back down to eighth place in the Western Conference. In a conference where the top-seeded Red Wings lead only by single digits and the division-leading Stars are easily within sight, it's not quite as bad as it looks. The same can be said for the Flames, only four points behind the Kings yet second from last in the conference. One good run or one bad slide can change the pecking order quickly.
They made the most of their one-game home stopover, needing only 19 shots to score four goals in a 4-2 win over the Lightning on Tuesday night. Rene Bourque
had a nice breakout with the winning goal and a pair of assists, but the issue now is what comes next. The Flames haven't put two wins together since Oct. 24-26, something on the minds of many players as they prepared to take on the Kings and Ducks on successive nights.
"We've got to keep this going," Bourque said. "If we are not putting a few wins together and we are just kind of staying at the bottom, we're not really moving and we're not really catching anybody. We're still close and we have time, but we can't just keep saying next game, next game."
One good sign is how Bourque and Jarome Iginla
each scored in the game, a feat not seen since they beat the Sharks 4-0 on Oct. 24.
"If we're both scoring that means both lines are playing well and our top six forwards are getting the job done and producing. That's what we need," Bourque added. "If we can keep this going together, and more often, I'm sure it's going to result in more wins."
The Kings are a step ahead of the Flames in at least one instance. They've already won two in a row, the first time they'd done that since their six-game winning streak ended Nov. 13. And while their swift start is now a memory, they're still quite formidable at home, their 3-2 overtime edging of the Red Wings on Saturday night improving their home mark to 10-2. Anze Kopitar
scored the winner, capping off a solid overall effort.
"It's a huge win against arguably the best team in the League right now," Justin Williams
said after joining teammate Alec Martinez
with a goal and an assist. "We battled back from a couple one-goal deficits and we played a strong third period. Everyone stepped up, and Kopi got a huge winning goal."
Who's hot --
The Kings stopped two Detroit power plays Saturday, extending their perfect penalty kill at home to 43 straight chances. They're the only team in the NHL not to allow a power-play goal at home this season. Kopitar has 3 goals in his last four games. … Iginla has a five-game point streak going, but more importantly has 14 points (9 goals, 5 assists) since his Nov. 19 hat trick. The Flames are 5-4-2 in that stretch.
Injury report --
Flames defenseman Steve Staios (upper body) was placed on injured reserve Monday after taking a hard check Sunday against the Blackhawks. Forward Raitis Ivanans
(head) has remained day-to-day since the season began. David Moss
(illness) should be well enough for Thursday's game. … Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell
(broken wrist) participated in his first full-team practice Wednesday, and is scheduled to meet with a doctor Thursday to obtain final clearance to play, making a Monday return in Detroit possible. Forward Alexei Ponikarovsky (broken finger) has been making steady progress and may be ready to go.
Stat pack --
Iginla has huge numbers against the Kings, scoring 28 goals and picking up 24 assists in 52 career matchups. … Kopitar has a respectable 7 goals and 7 assists in 17 games versus the Flames, but has a minus-13 rating. Conversely, he has been one of the reasons his team is so good at home this season, with 16 of his 24 points in 12 games. … As perfect as the penalty kill has been for the Kings at Staples Center, the power play hasn't kept pace at a fourth-from-the-bottom 13.3 percent. That's still better than the Flames' 10.9 percent on the road. The Flames are also having trouble with faceoffs, with only Mikael Backlund
and Iginla clearing the break-even point against the Lightning.
Puck drop --
"It's shown here the last few weeks. The games we've struggled in are the ones that we take a lot of penalties but 5-on-5 we can play with any team in this league. If we stay out of the box and play 5-on-5 we'll have a chance to win." -- Flames forward Matt Stajan on the team's official website explaining one of the keys to playing the Kings