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Pittsburgh vs. L.A. Kings Preview

by Deborah Francisco / Pittsburgh Penguins


THE FUNDAMENTALS
Pittsburgh Penguins (38-26-8-84) vs. Los Angeles Kings (29-30-10-68)

Where:
Mellon Arena
When:
Friday, March 20 at 7:30 p.m.
Radio:
WXDX Radio, FM 105.9
TV:
FSN Pittsburgh, the game will be broadcast in HD, available on Armstrong 179, Atlantic Broadband 782, Citizen 737, Comcast 226/774, DISH 428, DirecTV 659 and Verizon Fios 576.
*View FSN's HD Broadcast Schedule here
Season Series: This is the first and only meeting between the Penguins and the Kings this season.
 
PENGUINS PROJECTED LINES RELATED CONTENT
Forwards
Guerin-Crosby-Kunitz
Fedotenko-Malkin-Sykora
Cooke-Staal-Kennedy
Dupuis-Talbot-Godard

Defense
Orpik-Gonchar
Eaton-Letang
Scuderi-Gill

Netminder
Fleury


  Pens vs. Kings 2/9/08

 
KEY TO VICTORY
Maintain the Power Play: The Kings have killed off 25-of-27 penalties in their last six games (92.6 percent). Pittsburgh has scored five man-advantage goals in the past two games. The Penguins will have to maintain their recent power-play success to break past the Kings on the power play.

Play 60 Minutes:
The Kings are currently seven points out of the 8th playoff spot in the Western Conference. After dropping five of its last seven games, Los Angeles is desperate for the two points. The Penguins will have to play their up-tempo game for a full 60 minutes if they hope to best the Kings.
 
LOWDOWN ON THE KINGS
The Kings earned 71 points and went 32-43-7 last season to clinch the 15th spot in the Western Conference (29th overall) and missed the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season. The Kings, like many teams in the NHL, have committed to a youth movement and must now play the waiting game as their young talent matures.

Kings general manager Dean Lombardi decided to bring in Terry Murray as head coach at the start of this season with the hopes that Murray would help grow the young talents on the team. Los Angeles, however, is fighting tooth and nail for the final playoff spot in the West. They rank 4th in the Pacific division and 13th in the West with 68 points overall. Los Angeles won five straight road games Feb 3-18 but has gone 1-5-1 in its last seven.
 
NEW FACES
In the final minutes of the NHL trade deadline the Kings were involved in a three-team transaction that brought in forward Justin Williams and sent left wing Patrick O’Sullivan to Edmonton. Williams was on injured reserve at the time of the trade but might make his first appearance with Los Angeles on the Kings’ current road trip.

Prior to the start of the season the Kings parted ways with veteran defenseman Rob Blake and left wing Michael Cammalleri, opting to bring in young up-start players including forward Jarret Stoll and defenseman Matt Greene from Edmonton, defenseman Denis Gauthier from Philadelphia and right wing Brad Richardson from Colorado. The Kings also picked up solid, young defenseman Drew Doughty in the draft.
 
FORWARDS
Anze Kopitar is the Kings’ 21-year-old top-line center. Kopitar is leading the team in points this season with 60 (25G-35A). The 6-foot-3, 219-pound sniper was drafted by Los Angeles in 2005. Forwards Teddy Purcell and Dustin Brown compliment Kopitar on the top line. The trio is one of the youngest top-lines in the NHL (Brown, 24, Kopitar, 21, Purcell, 23) but it is also a line that can produce. Brown has 29 assists and 52 points this season. Purcell has seven points in his last eight games and Kopitar has points in seven of his last eight games (6G-4A).

Alexander Frolov is another forward to look out for. The Russian left winger plays on the second line and has a team-best 28 goals. He is second on the team in scoring with 55 points (28G-27A) and is on a seven-game point streak (2G-7A). His career high point streak is eight games. Stoll has fit in well with the Kings, tallying 41 points.
 
DEFENSEMEN
Jack Johnson was the No. 3-overall draft pick in the 2005 Entry Draft. He was originally selected by Carolina and was later traded to Los Angeles. The 21-year-old unfortunately suffered a shoulder injury in October and missed the first half of the season. Since returning to the lineup on Jan. 17, Johnson has netted seven points (4G-3A), 51 hits and 30 blocked shots. Kyle Quincey is the Kings’ leading offensive-defenseman and has netted 38 points so far this season (4G-34A).


Sean O’Donnell is possibly the Kings’ most dominant blueliner. He plays on the top defensive pair with rookie Drew Doughty. O’Donnell is a key element to the Kings’ successful penalty kill unit. Doughty is making waves in L.A. The 6-foot-1, 203-pound Ontario native was selected No. 2 overall by the Kings in the 2008 draft. Already he has established himself as a force to be reckoned with. He spends more time on the ice than any other player on the team averaging 23:50 per game. He has tallied 21 points (4G-17A) in 68 games.
 
GOALTENDING
The Kings switch back and forth between goalies Erik Ersberg and Jonathan Quick. Quick has started 32 games this season while Ersberg has started 27. Quick is 16-12-1 on the season with a goals against average of 2.65 and .908 save percentage. Quick, a Milford, Connecticut native, was selected by the Kings in the third round of the 2005 Entry Draft.

Ersberg is a 27-year-old Swedish native with a GAA of 2.58 and a save percentage of .900. His record is 8-10-5 on the season. It’s a toss up as to who will start in net. Ersberg has started the last two games but Quick has started 20 of the last 25.
 
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: DUSTIN BROWN
Brown leads the Kings in hits (242, third most in the league) and is third in scoring (52P, 23G-29A). The 24-year-old Ithaca, New York native is on the verge of breaking his career high in assists (29) set last year. The left winger was selected in the first round (13th overall) by the Kings in the 2003 draft. Brown plays on the Kings' top-line and is an excellent skater who knows how to handle the puck well.
 
"THEY SAID IT"
"It's a playoff type atmosphere and every game means something. We're not quite where the elite teams are in the league, but everyone has to go through that stage and we're headed in the right direction."
-Kings rookie forward Teddy Purcell told the Kings’ official website
 
POINT OF INTEREST
> Penguin interim head coach Dan Bylsma played his first NHL game with the Los Angeles Kings in 1995 and played five seasons with club.
 

Author: Deborah Francisco

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