Besides the two points, losing to Calgary in the second game of the year meant little in the big picture. It was a throw away game, coming on the second night of a back to back weekend series. More importantly, it came after an emotionally charged opening night in Vancouver just 24 hours prior.
This Kings team isn’t filled with Gretzky, Robitaille and Blake. They don’t hate the Flames, circa 1990. After making the playoffs last season for the first time in eight years – and the first time ever for most of the team – losing to the Canucks is what hurt. Thus, that’s the game that’s going to get them up this season.
So, that was the excuse last time.
How about the other games over the last few years, where the Kings have dropped 14 of 17 to the Flames?
Other stats to consider…
* Jarome Iginla – for all the talk a few weeks ago that he was about to be traded, perhaps even to the Kings, he’s still with the Flames. In 20 career games at Staples Center he has 23 points (13g, 10a).
* Olli Jokinen – he’s one of those players that “newer” Kings fans probably don’t have a connection to. For those unfamiliar, think Brayden Schenn 10+ years ago. At the 1997 NHL Draft the Kings selected him third overall, behind only Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. He was supposed to be a a big time center with tons of promise. Instead of being the guy in LA for the next decade, he was traded for Ziggy Palffy a few months before the Kings moved downtown. In 10 career games at Staples Center he has seven points (4g, 3a).
* Alex Tanguay – he’s a big fan of MayorsManor. Enough said.
* For all the talk about the weird schedule this year, how about last year – where the Kings played the Flames three times over a 10 game stretch in December? Was that really necessary? LA went 1-2 with their only win coming at Staples Center on December 7 by a 2-1 final. That was the Kings’ first victory over Calgary since February 2008.
* Their overall power play percentages are nearly dead-even, 14.6% for LA and 14.9% for Calgary. However, LA’s penalty kill is much better, 86.6% compared to 83.3, including a perfect 43-for-43 at home.
* Justin Williams has arguably been the Kings’ best player this season. How has he fared against the Flames? In 11 career games he has just one goal…and one assist to keep that goal from getting too lonely in the stats column.
* How about Dustin Brown? Well, #23 has played 23 career games vs. the Flames and produced just nine points (3g, 6a). Only one of his three goals has come at Staples Center. However, he did have the lone goal against them earlier this year in Calgary. So, that’s somewhat encouraging.
* Ryan Smyth has 20 goals in 71 games vs. the Flames. Yet, most of those came when he was an Oiler. Not to mention, 12 of the 20 have come at the Saddledome.
* Kopitar, you say? Anze has found success against the Flames, with 14 points (7g, 7a) in 17 career games.
Regardless of the stats listed above, this game will more than likely come down to goaltending. Jonathan Quick and Miikka Kiprusoff are two of the best in the Western Conference. History suggests it will be tough to get the puck by either of them.
Remembering a Rivalry – Kings vs. Flames (w/ video of one of the best Kings goals ever scored)
Painting By Numbers With Ryan Smyth – his thoughts on key milestone games
Kings-Flames – A Playoff Preview? – published December 2009
Kings-Flames – By The Numbers – published December 2009