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KINGS NOTEBOOK (MARCH 24)

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
The Kings had an especially long practice today, getting on the ice at 10:30 and getting off closer to noon as the team prepares to play cross-town rival Anaheim on Wednesday night in the first game of a back-to-back, with Phoenix coming to STAPLES Center on Thursday.


Crawford's Practice Report

BETWEEN THESE TEAMS, RECORDS DON’T MATTER
Wednesday’s game at the Honda Center will mark the 83rd all-time meeting between the Kings and Ducks, which Los Angeles leads the series with a 36-31-15 all-time record. This season, the first of the Freeway Faceoff, the Kings have posted a 2-3-1 mark and has gone 6-3-2 in the last 11 head-to-head meetings. The Kings have also earned points in four of the last five games at Honda Center (3-1-1).

SERIES BREAKDOWN:
Kings vs. ANA all-time*: 36-31-11-4
Kings vs. ANA on road*: 14-18-4-2

AND ADDED INTRIGUE…WILL THE KINGS SEE AUBIN?
Former King netminder J.S. Aubin was recently recalled to Anaheim as the other J.S. – Giguere – has been scratched (listed as day-to-day) due to back spasms.

Aubin appeared in 19 games in Los Angeles, posting a 5-6-1 mark with a 3.19 GAA and a .886 SV%, before being dealt by the Kings to Anaheim, in the first-ever trade between the Kings and Ducks, for a seventh-round pick on Feb. 26. Upon arriving in Anaheim, Aubin was quickly assigned to Portland, the Ducks AHL Affiliate, where he has posted these gaudy numbers: 4-2-0 with two shutouts, a 2.35 GAA and a .915 SV% in eight games, prompting his call up when Giguere was injured.

COMEBACK KIDS
The Kings comeback against Dallas on Saturday afternoon, erasing 1-0 and 2-1 deficits with a three-goal third period for a 4-2 win, was the Kings 14th win after surrendering the first goal, which is the sixth-most in the NHL. In addition, the Kings have now earned points eight times when trailing after the second period (five wins, one overtime loss and two shootout losses).

Entering Third Period Trailing… Came Back To Win/Earn Point
By Four Goals Feb. 23 vs. CHI (OTL 5-6) – Trailed 5-1
  Nov. 10 vs. DAL (OTW 6-5) – Trailed 4-0
By Two Goals Feb. 7 at DET (W 5-3) – Trailed 3-1
By One Goal March 22 at DAL (W, 4-2) – Trailed 2-1
  Dec. 30 at CHI (OTW 3-2) – Trailed 1-0
  Dec. 29 at COL (W 3-1) – Trailed 1-0
  Dec. 3 vs. EDM (SOL 3-4) – Trailed 3-2
  Nov. 13 at ANA (SOL 3-4) – Trailed 3-1

BY THE POWER OF ZEUS
Michael Handzus, who hadn’t lit the lamp since Dec. 17, tallied two goals in the comeback win at Dallas on Saturday. Handzus, who has posted 7-14=21 on the season, is one of four players (Anze Kopitar, Patrick O’Sullivan and Lubomir Visnovsky) to play in all 76 games this season, his first in Los Angeles and his first since suffering a season-ending ACL injury just eight games into the 2006-07 season.

ERSBERG TO GET SOME FAMILY SUPPORT
Erik Ersberg, who is quickly gaining fans amongst the Kings faithful, will have two of his biggest fans see him play this week, as his parents will be flying to Los Angeles from Sweden. Ersberg said after practice that he expects them to be there as the Kings host Phoenix and Dallas, but that there was a chance for the Anaheim game on Wednesday.

Ersberg has been excellent in net, stopping 261 of 281 shots (.929 save percentage and 2.33 goals-against average) in his first nine NHL games (Feb. 23 to present), posting a 4-3-2 mark on the season.

"The best players in the world are here so the shooting is better, they can really pick the corners," Ersgberg said of his adjustment to the NHL," that is the biggest thing I guess, but there are better defenseman here and better players on my team too, so that helps me out."

His shutout March 6 vs. Ottawa was his first NHL win and first shutout by a Kings rookie since Jason LaBarbera blanked the Sharks 4-0 April 17, 2006 at San Jose. Ersberg was also the first NHL rookie goaltender to make at least 40 saves in a shutout since Nov. 14, 1996, when Vancouver’s Mike Fountain, in his NHL debut, stopped all 40 shots he faced in a 3-0 win at New Jersey. The 40 saves were the most ever by a Kings rookie goaltender in a shutout, breaking the old mark of 38 set by Gary Edwards in a 2-0 win at Boston on March 5, 1972. Ersberg is the first Swedish-born goaltender in Kings history (Sala, Sweden).

SPECIAL TEAMS, WELL, SPECIAL
The Kings have killed 36 of their last 43 penalties (84.0 percent), dating back to the first period Feb. 23 vs. Chicago (10-plus games).

OTHER SPECIAL TEAMS RANKINGS (As of March 24):
Power Play Goals: 62 (sixth most)
Power play Opportunities: 346 (fourth most)
Times Short-handed: 283 (Third fewest)
Power Play Goals Allowed: 61 (18th fewest)

Click here to view these comparison in other Kings stats.

RANDOM NOTES
The win over the Coyotes snapped a six-game skid vs. Phoenix...the win at Dallas was the Kings first since Dec. 31, 2005...The two wins did pull the Kings even with Tampa Bay for the lowest points in the NHL with 66, the Kings have one more win (30-29), but Tampa Bay also has a game in hand...The Kings (30-40-6 = 66 points) are only three points away from surpassing last season’s total (27-41-14 = 68 points)…Their 30 wins has already surpassed last season’s total of 27.

TWO KINGS PROSPECTS EARN CCHA KUDOS
Miami University (Ohio) goaltender Jeff Zatkoff and Miami University (Ohio) defenseman Alec Martinez, both Kings’ prospects, earned CCHA All-Tournament team honors last weekend.

Zatkoff, a 6-1, 180-pound native of Detroit, Michigan, was a third-round (74th overall) selection of the Kings in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. The 20-year-old enters next week’s NCAA Tournament with a record of 25-5-1, a goals-against-average of 1.68 and a save-percentage of .934 in 33 appearances this season.

Martinez, a 6-0, 188-pound native of Rochester Hills, Michigan, was a fourth-round (95th overall) selection of the Kings in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. The 20-year-old enters next week’s NCAA Tournament with 27 points (8-19=27), 40 penalty minutes and a plus-28 rating in 38 games this season.

In addition to being named to the CCHA’s All-Tournament team, Martinez was also recently honored by the CCHA as the league's best defensive defenseman after leading a Miami RedHawks team that placed first in the conference in team defense and second in penalty-killing during the regular season.

The RedHawks, a No. 1 seed in the Northeast Regional of the 16-team NCAA Tournament, open tournament play against Air Force in Worcester, Massachusetts, on Saturday, March 29.

SPEAKING OF COLLEGE
So we are in the midst of March Madness, with the NCAA basketball tournament already entering the Sweet 16 as well as Kings Madness entering the Round of 16, the brackets for the NCAA Hockey Tournament were announced this weekend. The tournament will be closely watched in the Kings locker room, which boasts many former collegiate players:

Tom Preissing: Colorado College, NCAA…WCHA First Team All-Star in 2003…NCAA West First Team All-American in 2003…WCHA Student Athlete of the Year in 2003…Finalist for the Hobey Baker Award in 2003...Led the nation in points scored by a defenseman (42 GP, 23-29=52) in 2002-03…Tied for first in the nation in power play goals (17) in 2002-03…Served as his team’s captain in 2002-03.

Michael Cammalleri: University of Michigan, NCAA…CCHA First Team All-Star in 2001…NCAA West Second All-American Team in 2001…CCHA Second All-Star Team in 2002…NCAA West First All-American Team in 2002.

Jeff Giuliano: Boston College, NCAA…Served as captain in 2001-02…NCAA Champions in 2001…Advanced to the Frozen Four in three out of his four seasons with the Eagles.

John Zeiler: Saint Lawrence University, NCAA…ECAC All-Rookie Team in 2003.

Peter Harrold: Boston College, NCAA (Teammates with Brian Boyle for three seasons: 2003-04 through 2005-06)…Hockey East First Team All-Star in 2006…NCAA East First Team All-American in 2006…Named to the Hockey East All-Academic Team in both 2004-05 and 2003-04.

Jack Johnson: University of Michigan, NCAA, CCHA First Team All-Star in 2007…CCHA’s Best Offensive Defenseman in 2007…CCHA All-Rookie in 2006.

Rob Blake: Bowling Green State, NCAA…CCHA Second Team All-Star in 1989…CCHA First All-Star Team in 1990…NCAA West First Team All-American in 1990


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