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LAKINGS.COM IN AUSTRIA II

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
GAME BLOG 


Where as yesterday the weather was gorgeous, today, the temperature has dropped 20 degrees and there has been an onslaught of rain. Though that does not affect the team in any manner on the ice, it does limit the amount of tourist type activities that the team will do.

As a result, the planned further description of the area on LAKings.com will be scrapped for the time being, and today's coverage will focus more on the game.

Tonight the Kings will take on the EC Red Bull Salzburg tonight at 5:30 p.m. in Austria, 9:30 a.m. on the West Coast in California. We were trying to get the game streamed online via LAKings.com but were unable to dot all of the i's and cross all of the t's for today's game, we will try and explore that again for tomorrow, however. We will blog through the game to keep the Kigns fans informed of what is going on in Austria.

Tonight's game will be played at the Eisarena Salzburg, which is an Olympic rink, which is approximately 15 feet wider than an NHL rink.

The standard NHL rink is 200 feet by 85 feet, whereas an Olympic sized rink is 100 feet wide and has additional room behind the net. Fans will notice that the passing lanes open up, as a result and a good passing team will has an advantage on a bigger rink.

The Eisarena Salzburg seats about 3,500 and is an older building that is being renovated by the good people at Red Bull. In fact, at the morning skate, maintenance was on going with walls being painted in preparation for the evening’s festivities.

Despite the increase in size of the rink, Crawford does not see this as any reason to change his team’s style of play.

"The important area is the area between the dots," Crawford said. "That is no different on a North American rink or an Olympic sized sheet. From the face off dot to the corner of the post, it is the exact same dimension, the same angles for the goaltenders, there is just more room on the outside.

"That is what the European teams try to do, they try and draw you to the outside areas and defend the middle area. That is what our sport is about, it is just like soccer, you want to cover the middle of the field, not a lot goes on the outside."

Believe it or not, one Kings player has performed in this rink before. Anze Kopitar played in the first of these tournaments back in 2005 when it was called the “Red Bulls Face Off.” Kopitar played for Södertälje SK, which competed in the first event in Sept. 2005. The Red Bulls also participated in the inaugural tournament along with, HC Buedjovice from the Czech Republic and ERC Ingolstadt from Germany, which won the event.

"It was with my Swedish team, it was a fun experience," Kopitar remembers. "It is going to be really loud and there will be a lot of Salzburg fans...and European fans are quite different they bring in drums and they make a lot of noise."

In 2006, the Tournament changed format, inviting six teams and playing three games each in three days. Alongside the Red Bulls, and 2005 winner ERC Ingolstadt, was Finland's Jokerit HC, the Czech Republic's long-standing ice hockey club Sparta Prague, Switzerland's top team ZSK Lions and Sweden's high-flyers Skelleftea AIK - to show what they were capable of at the Red Bulls Face-Off.

The final results of the Red Bulls Face-Off 2006: 1. Zürich Lions, 2. ERC Ingolstadt, 3. Sparta Prague, 4. EC Red Bull Salzburg, 5. Jokerit HC, 6. Skelleftea AIK.

Kopitar has many family and friends in attendance as his child hood home is just 2.5 half hours a way.

"When I played here the first time, a lot of my family and friends came out," Kopitar said. "Tonight my grandparents, my girlfriend and a bunch of buddies will be at the game tonight."

Speaking of family, there will be one extra person on the Kings bench tonight/this morning as Crawford’s nephew and sister are in town from Rome visiting. His nephew will be sitting on the bench with the team.

Crawford believes that his team will get a game tonight and thinks this tournament will be a competitive one with the best teams of each of the leagues involved being represented.

“What will happen, I'm sure, is that many of the teams we're playing, or all of the teams we're playing, will be extremely motivated to play the National Hockey Leaguers. There's lots of ex-NHLers on all the teams, especially the teams from the Swiss elite league and the Swedish league. There's a couple former players on the Red Bull, and with that motivation I'm sure there will be a little emotion and a little bit of passion in the game.

One of the players Kings fans will remember and recognize is Josh green. Taken with the Kings second round pick, 30th overall in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft, Green skated in 27 games with the Kings scoring 1-3=4 with the club in 1998-99. Overall, Green, a left wing, has seen action in 322 NHL games with the Kings, Islanders, Oilers, Rangers, Capitals, Flames, and Canucks, scoring 35-39=74 with 193 PIMs.

He has played for the Red Bulls since last season.

Other former NHL players for the Red Bulls include goaltender Reinhard Divis, who has seen action in 28 NHL games, defensemen Rick Jackman (231), Doug Lynch (2) and Brad Fast (1) and forward Frank Banham (32).

"Their skill level is quite high and playing against an NHL team, they are going to play their hearts out," Crawford said. "Many of them have played in the NHL before and they want to show they can match up with National Hockey Leaguers, and there is tremendous motivation for them to play in this game.

"We want to play a strong game and continue our preparation for those games in London and keep our sites focused on the things we have to do no matter who we are playing to be successful."

In addition to the Red Bulls, former players are spotted all over the rosters, we will discuss this in greater detail shortly.

Regardless of the outcome of tonight’s/this morning’s game, the one thing on the club’s mind is preparing for Anaheim and London.

“We've got to stay focused on the preparation that we've got for our game against Anaheim. We want to really zone in on how we're playing in our own end, make sure our line combinations and our penalty-killing combinations and power-play combinations are continuing to develop and continuing to improve.”

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