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Schedule Analysis: October

by Thomas LaRocca / Los Angeles Kings
With the 2009-10 regular season schedule released on Wednesday, takes a (long) look at the slate the Kings are to play in the upcoming season.

2009-10 Schedule | Download Schedule | Notes | Discuss

The Kings will play 14 games (eight on the road and six at home) during the month of October and will open the season at STAPLES Center against the Phoenix Coyotes, a team they will face twice during the opening month of the season and one of the six October games against opponents that did not qualify for the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs (Phoenix - twice, Minnesota, NY Islanders and Dallas - twice).

CoyotesThe Kings best October ever took place in 1990, posting a 9-3-1 mark for 19 points. The best October of recent years was 2005, where the Kings posted an 8-4-0 mark for 16 points. See chart below.

The Kings have not opened the season at STAPLES Center since 2002-03, against, ironically, these same Phoenix Coyotes in a 4-1 Kings win. The Kings are 20-13-8 all time in Home Openers and 17-15-9 in Season Openers, while posting a 9-7-6 mark when opening the season at home. Click here to see the Kings All-Time Opening Night History.

Unfortunately, the Kings have not fared very well against the Coyotes over the last few seasons, posting a 4-10-0 mark since 2007-08, winning just two of six last season. Kings vs. Phoenix Series history.

The Coyotes finished with a 36-39-7 mark in 2008-09, finishing 24th in the NHL in goals allowed, while scoring just 205, which ranked 26th in the NHL.

The Coyotes have added former Kings net minder Jason LaBarbera to challenge Al Montoya for the right to back up starting goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. The Coyotes have also added Adrian Aucoin and James Vandermeer on the back end to bolster their roster.

Following the Season Opener vs. the Coyotes, the Kings will play two more home games on Oct. 6 vs. San Jose and Oct. 8 vs. Minnesota to conclude a season-opening three-game home stand. The Kings have swept a three-game homestand 14 times, the most recent being 2008-09, when the Kings went 3-0-0 vs. the Dallas Stars (5-4 OT W), the Minnesota Wild (4-3 W) and the Vancouver Canucks (3-2 W) from March 5-9, 2009. The flip side to that coin, however, is that the Kings have been swept on a three-game homestand six times, most recently in 2002-03.

The Kings second opponent, the San Jose Sharks, won the President’s Trophy last season posting an impressive 53-18-11 mark for 117 points to edge out Boston’s 116 points for the most in the NHL. After a six-game first round ouster by the Ducks, the Sharks roster remains pretty much in tact.

The Kings posted a 1-3-2 mark against their neighbors to the North, including a 1-1-1 mark at STAPLES Center. The Kings played the Sharks tough, being outscored just 14-10 (with two shootout goals scored by SJ) over the six-game series, falling twice in the shootout and also losing by a 1-0 score in the second game of the season, a game in which the Kings lost top defenseman Jack Johnson for what turned out to be half of the season due to a shoulder injury. Click here to view the Kings and Sharks Series History.

Two days later, the Kings will host the Minnesota Wild, a team they swept, 4-0 last season, for the first time in Kings history. Click here for the Kings-Wild Series History.

Minnesota has experienced the most change at the top, with new head coach Todd Richards and new GM Chuck Fletcher, replacing former GM Doug Risebrough and head coach Jacques Lemaire, and his stifling defensive system, who returned to New Jersey. Most of the roster remained in tact, basically replacing Marian Gaborik with Martin Havlat for a team that went 40-33-9, just three points out of a playoff spot.

The home stand could be important as the Kings are then on the road for the next six games and eight of the next 10 games, for a team that went 16-22-3 on the road a season ago.

The Kings have had 20 six-game road trips in their history with their best marks coming in 1986-87 (4-2-0), 1988-89 (4-2-0) and 1992-93 (3-1-0), while also going 1-5-0 on three occasions (1971-72, and twice in 1972-73). The Kings had a six-game trek at the end of the 2008-09 season, posting a respectable 2-3-1 record.

The road trip opens on Oct. 10 at St. Louis, a team that came out of nowhere to secure the sixth playoff spot in the west with a 41-41-10 mark for 92 points and were quickly swept out of the playoffs by the Vancouver Canucks in the first round.

The Blues, led by the Kings all-time leader in wins in head coach Andy Murray, added back up net minder Ty Conklin and will have a healthy Eric Johnson and Paul Kariya, two of the many Blues that missed significant time during 2008-09.

The Kings three of four meeting from the Blues, going 1-1-0 at St. Louis. Click here to view the Kings-Blues Series History.

MoulsonThe Kings will then travel to New York for a match up with the NY Islanders, who won the John Tavares sweepstakes, finishing with a 26-47-9 mark for 61 points, the worst mark in the NHL.

The Islanders were without Rick DiPietro for much of the season and as a result they have signed veteran back up Dwayne Roloson to help support the net efforts.

The Islanders also signed former King Matt Moulson, defensemen Mark Flood and Brett Westgarth, Kings forward Kevin Westagarths’ older brother. Click here to view the Kings-Islanders Series History.

The Kings and Islanders met once in 2008-09, with LA skating away with a 4-3 shootout win on the road on Feb. 10, extending the Kings winning streak against the Islanders to three games and their undefeated streak to four games (3-0-1) since 2003-04.

The Kings will then play the NY Rangers, a team they faced once a year ago, losing in the shootout, 3-2 in a strange game in which New York defenseman Michal Rozsival scored on a penalty shot in the second and then scored the game-winning goal in overtime becoming just the second player to score on a penalty shot in regulation time and then win the game with an overtime goal since the NHL introduced the five-minute overtime period in 1983-84 (Anaheim’s Steve Thomas on April 1, 2003 was the other one). Click here for the Kings-Rangers Series History.

BoyleThe Rangers finished with a 43-30-9 mark and were eliminated in seven games in the first round of the NHL playoffs. The Blueshirts parted ways with Scott Gomez, but added Marian Gaborik and Tyler Arnason as well as former King Brian Boyle, who was dealt there at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Don't forget as well, the Rangers will have a full season of another former King, Sean Avery.

The Kings then travel to Detroit to play the Stanley Cup runner-ups. Detroit of course posted a 51-21-10 mark for 112 points and lost in seven games to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Finals. Click here for the Kings Series History vs. Detroit.

The Kings posted an 0-3-1 mark against the Red Wings in 2008-09 and have gone just 3-16-5 against Detroit since 2002-03. The Wings will be without the services of Marian Hossa, who signed a 12-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks, Conklin in net and Chris Chelios on defense.

The Rangers and Red Wings are the Kings first back-to-back of the season and one of 12 such occasions the Kings play on consecutive nights during the 2009-10 campaign. The Kings had 14 back-to-backs in 2008-09, posting identical 5-8-1 marks in each the first and second games.

The Kings conclude the six-game road trip with Columbus on Oct. 17 and Dallas on the Oct. 19, the first of a home-and-home vs. the Stars, hosting Dallas on Oct. 22 at STAPLES Center.

Columbus is coming off the best season in franchise history, securing its first ever playoff spot after a 41-31-10 season earned them seventh place in the conference and a first round match up with the Red Wings, a series which lasted all of four games.

Columbus locked up Rick Nash for eight years, signed former King Mathieu Garon to back up rookie of the year Steve Mason and added Samuel Pahlsson to be their center iceman on a shutdown third line. The Kings split four games with Columbus last season, with three of the games ending in shutouts (two by the Kings) and then a wild, back-and-forth 5-4 affair to close out the season series on March 3. Click here for the Kings-Blue Jackets Series History.

The Kings then start a home and home with Dallas, facing the Stars at Dallas on Monday, Oct. 19 and then three days later at STAPLES Center. Click here for the Kings-Stars Series History.

The Kings posted a 4-1-1 mark against the Stars in 2008-09, a team that finished with a 36-35-11 mark and missing the playoffs. Dallas’ roster remains much the same as last season, a season which was decimated by injuries to Sergei Zubov, Brenden Morrow, Jere Lehtinen and of course the Avery experiment, which ended after just 23 games.

After hosting Dallas for the fourth home game of the season, Los Angeles will conclude with a back-to-back at Phoenix and vs. Columbus on Oct. 24 and 25 and then a back-to-back at San Jose and vs. Vancouver on Oct. 29.

The Canucks took three of four games from the Kings a year ago and finished with a 45-27-10 mark for 112 points, advancing to the Semi-finals where they were eliminated by the Chicago Blachkawks. The Canucks have not been very active this off-season, but have signed Andrew Raycroft to back up Roberto Luongo and resigned the Sedin twins to long term deals. Click here for the Kings-Canucks Series History.

So the Kings will start off the 2009-10 campaign with 14 games in 26 nights, playing eight on the road and six at home; embark a six-game road trip and host a three-game homestand while mixing in three back-to-backs in a challenging first month of the season.

Continue to November

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