Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Peepin' Foes: Los Angeles Kings

The Rangers will hopefully have recovered from their Casino Night hangovers by the time the puck drops tomorrow night at the Garden. The Blueshirts will face off against the red-hot Los Angles Kings (7pm, MSG).

Where We Are: Coming off of a good win over the Wilkes Barre Penguins on Sunday but 1-5-1 in the last seven games. After three days off last week, the Rangers stumbled against Atlanta and they are coming off of three days off this week - facing a far tougher foe. Seeing as Carolina is two points behind the seventh-place Blueshirts and are playing the Devils tonight, the teams could be even at 64 points come the mornin'.

Where They Are: The Kings could be undefeated in regulation in their last 10 when the clock hits midnight. Los Angeles is 7-0-2 in their last nine and is playing in Columbus tonight. Luckily for the Rangers, the Kings are 3-5 this season in the back half of back-to-backs. Going into tonight's game, L.A. has played two less games than the Rangers and have one more point but aren't even in the top eight in the West; they are even with Minnesota one point behind the eighth place team - Olli Jokinen's Calgary Flames. (Update: LA beat Columbus in a shootout, 4-3, to go to 8-0-2 in their last 10. They moved two points over the Wild but remain one behind Calgary.)

Who To Watch For: For all of their perceived offensive ability, the Kings don't have a single point-per-game player or a single 20 goal scorer yet. All of their stars have suffered slumps this season - from Anze Kopitar to Drew Doughty to Dustin Brown to to Ryan Smyth to Wayne Simmonds - but that doesn't make them any less dangerous; remember that the Rangers are great slump-busters. Jason Williams has played more games this season than he has the previous three and is back to being the dangerous player he was on Carolina coming out of the lockout. Alexei Ponikarovsky, L.A.'s replacement for Alex Frolov, is indeed replacing Frolov well with just one goal in his last 18 games and four all season. Young Andrei Loktionov is coming on strong of late and should have a big NHL future. And Jarret Stoll, who called off his marriage with Avery's sloppy seconds Rachel Hunter, is an impressive 56.8% at the faceoff dot and has been on a bit of a hot streak as well; he could be dangerous.

What To Watch For: With Jonathan Quick due to start against Columbus, Jonathan Bernier will likely be the man between the pipes. Yes, he is the backup but he has been outstanding of late, allowing just five goals over his last four starts - see if he can keep it up. L.A. doesn't have a power play goal in their last three games, mostly because the QB Doughty, has zero assists in his last seven games (but has three goals, including the game-winner against Philly). Seeing as the Rangers are young and soft in the back, expect the Kings to come hard. Simmonds and Brown will throw their bodies around, as will tough guys Kyle Clifford and Kevin Westgarth.

What We'll (Hopefully) See: Prust not fighting either one of them. Boyle showing Los Angeles exactly what they traded away. Avery also making a statement against his former team. The Rangers going to the net the way they did against Pittsburgh, even though Willie Mitchell, Rob Scuderi and Johnson will make them pay. Brown and Cally going hit for hit. Michael Del Zotto doing something, anything to justify Tortorella's faith. Gaborik scoring a goal ... hey, I said hopefully.

Also Check Out: The Royal Half, Surly & Scribe, SBN's The Battle of California and Jewels From The Crown, and Rich Hammond's Kings Insider.


Anonymous said...

Are u insane? That we can be destroyed by the Devils tonight if we don't play well? The Devils barely beat the opposition. Bullcrap trap crap. Devils stink.

Anonymous said...

Are u insane. That the Devils will destroy us if we don't play well? Hell, Devils barely beat anybody by anything more than a goal even in this recent streak. They wait until they are 30 games under 500 to start playing hockey. Devils suck. They should dis-band ridiculous franchise. Only the Rangers sell out the building.