DALLAS, Texas (Mar. 26) – The Los Angeles Kings will play the fourth game of their current six-game road trip tonight at the American Airlines Center against the Dallas Stars. Both L.A. and Dallas are headed in the wrong direction in the five-team battle for the eighth and the final playoff spot from the Western Conference. The Kings have lost three games in a row and four out of their last five and the Stars are currently on a four-game skid.
Both L.A. and Dallas played on Tuesday night; the Kings were shutout 2-0 in St. Louis while the Stars suffered a 5-2 loss on home ice to the surging Vancouver Canucks.
L.A. is nine points out of a playoff spot with just nine games left to play. Expect to see a motivated group of Kings’ players tonight.
Tonight’s game will be the fifth of six meetings this season between the Kings and the Stars. L.A. has a 3-0-1 record against Dallas this year. The clubs will wrap up their season series next Tuesday, Mar. 31, at STAPLES Center… Three of the four previous games between L.A. and Dallas have been decided in either overtime or a shootout…Although this morning’s skate was optional, all but a handful (5-6) of the Kings players were on the ice…All of the L.A. players took part in yesterday’s full practice at the Stars Center in Farmers Branch…Kings head coach Terry Murray indicated that rookie netminder Jonathan Quick would get the start in net…Two players will be scratched – right wing John Zeiler and center Oscar Moller – from the L.A. lineup...Left wing Alexander Frolov (lower body) and defenseman Denis Gauthier (upper body) will miss the game because of injury…A player to watch for L.A. is defenseman Davis Drewiske. The rookie from the University of Wisconsin will be playing in his fourth consecutive game since being recalled from Manchester on Mar. 20. Drewiske has four hits, 12 blocked shots, 14 PIM, and six shots in eight games played with L.A. this season.
On who replaces Frolovs’ offensive production in the L.A. lineup:
“Anytime you lose a guy like that your not going to be able to fill that spot with one guy. It’s gonna have to be a group effort. I’m going to move Handzus up to play with Kopitar and we’ll see how that goes. Handzus has been playing well lately, he’s probably been our top scorer the last ten games or so.”
On how to get more offense from his team (the Kings haven’t scored an even strength goal in more than 180 minutes)
“Goals have obviously been hard to come by for us. We really focused on offensive zone play in yesterday’s practice and today’s skate. I like what I’ve seen. I want the guys to get the puck to net, and get traffic in front. If we do those two things, then good things will happen.”
On how to matchup with Dallas center Mike Ribeiro (who has 3G/2A) in four games vs. L.A. this season)
“We need better recognition against him (Ribeiro). Because Dallas will have the last change, we can’t put a particular line out there against him. What I want to do is get a certain d-pair on the ice to try and slow him down. But the biggest thing is that when he’s on the ice our team needs to know that they are now in a defensive situation.”
On the play of Jonathan Quick
“I’m going to keep going with him. He’s been impressive, and is playing at a high-level right now. What I like about Quick is that he is very mentally tough. He’s shown a ton of progress as the season has gone along. I like his approach, not just in games, but also in practice. He’s starting to play like a veteran – with greater intensity, increased concentration, and more aggression. He’s also had better control with his movement and reaction.”
On the development of Davis Drewiske
“Davis has picked up right where he left off (from his first call-up in February). He plays strong, hard, heavy, and I really like his attitude. He’s got that edge that is so important for a defenseman. He’s also starting to show some composure and is learning how to deal with the quick plays and the speed of the game at the National Hockey League level.”
On the differences between this call-up and his first call-up
“The biggest thing is confidence. I feel so much more comfortable. I know everybody – the team, the coaches, and the routine. I really believe that I’m starting to contribute.”
His expectations for this call-up
“You can’t really have any expectations. I’m just trying to take it one day at a time, play well, and make a good impression with the players, coaches and staff.
On playing in front of friends and family in Chicago last Sunday
“That was really special. Chicago is as close as we’re gonna get to my hometown in Wisconsin. I had to track down ten tickets for everybody that came to the game. I imagine that it would have been a lot more had they had more than a days notice.”
Compiled by Jeff Bowerman | Special to LAKings.com