Hi folks! It wouldn't be a complete gameday if I didn't get the three questions from Jewels from the Crown. These are a bit later today because I'm a jerk and didn't get them out yesterday like I should have. Still, Niesy was kind enough to answer them for us. Head over to JFTC for their take on today's matchup
1. with 4 straight wins and games in hand on everybody, the Kings aren't dead (long live the Kings). What's changed for them lately?
Would you believe "not as much as people think"? It's funny but true.
In the first 12 games became clear that the Kings were still a dominant puck possession team, even if it wasn't yet paying off in wins. So while nearly every pundit was shrieking that the super-hungover Kings were in deep trouble and needed to hit the panic button, the stats told us not to worry. Even if they didn't start getting the bounces this year, LA was still strong.
The biggest improvement since these teams last met has been from the goaltending side. The defense, though very young and less experienced, was keeping shots and scoring chances low, but Quick wasn't making enough saves. (You might remember one of those weak goals late in the third. Hmph.) He hadn't played for half a year after his surgery, and his even strength save percentage was just .890 in his first ten starts. That makes it hard to win.
Darryl Sutter called Quick out after the game in Detroit and gave Bernier some more starts. Bernier performed well, and that allowed Quick some more time to work with the goalie coaches. Quick has been better since.
Then there's the offense. Even when they had a losing record, they were out-shooting and out-chancing their opponents. Some veteran scorers like Richards took a while to get up to speed, and Kopitar was clearly hampered by his knee injury early on, but it was only a matter of time before proven scorers began hitting the net. The new power play is also looking better.
So aside from the goaltending, it's been mostly small adjustments. Win/loss records don't tell the full story.
This is why you need to pay attention to Fenwick Close if you make bets in Vegas.
2. With a rash of recent re-acquisitions by clubs bringing back familiar players, who's the one ex-King you'd most like to see Dean Lombardi get back?
This is a tough one. Matt Moulson? Gosh, somehow we're still on the hunt for 30-goal-scoring left wings! Coming in second, maybe Wayne Simmonds. He wouldn't score as much because the Kings would keep him on the third line, but it'd still be fun.
3. Darry Sutter and Mike Babcock don't like each other. Who do you have in a no-holds-barred match between them?
Well, Sutter grew up scrapping with six tough-as-nails brothers. He's got the mitts and the sheer willpower to go the distance.
But hey, I'd like to see it. It should happen in a bar. Broken bottles and thrown chairs. At least neither of them would have to worry about ruining their pretty faces.