Gameday Preview: L.A. Kings @ Dallas Stars (7:30pm CDT)

Los Angeles Kings (4-4-0) @ Dallas Stars (3-1-3)

Monday, October 19th, 2009. 7:30pm CDT

American Airlines Center

Local TV: FSN

Radio: KTCK 1310 The Ticket

Opponents Blog: Battle of California

Stars head coach Marc Crawford will meet up with another former team tonight at the AAC as the Kings come calling to open a week full of division play for Dallas. Crawford spent two seasons with these Kings, missing the playoffs both years.

These teams have presented us with some real doozies in recent years. In the first post-lock out game, L.A. tried to spoil opening night at the AAC by taking a 4-0 lead, only to see the Stars storm back and win 5-4. A season later, the Stars blew a four goal lead at the Staples Center, losing to the Kings 6-5 in OT. Finally, in March of 2009, the Stars blew a two goal lead with less than three minutes to play, eventually losing 5-4 in overtime.

While the Kings have been viewed in recent years as "should-win" games by some, the Stars should know better by now. The theatrics, combined with Los Angeles' 4-1-1 record against Dallas last season show that these games are anything but easy. The Kings regard themselves as a group on the rise.

After the jump, a look at both teams and injury updates...

The Stars:

This will be Dallas' third game in four nights. They were given the day off on Sunday to rest after a much needed victory in Chicago Saturday night. The Stars can enter this game feeling good about the way they bounced back from a putrid performance on Friday, losing 3-0 to the Bruins on home ice. Had they lost on Saturday as well, I bet we'd be talking about tonight's game like it were a lot more important than one of eighty-two. The Stars faced their first bump in the road this weekend and managed to right the ship immediately. It's important for a hockey team to build on the confidence a game like that creates.

Marty Turco will be in net on Monday night. We've talked a little bit about the potential "goaltender controversy" that could arise should the fates continue to hand Alex Auld (2 wins in 2 games) victories and Marty Turco (1-1-3) defeats.

With the schedule as cramped as it is (look at March, for example) I think the opportunities for Auld to get into the game will be plentiful. There's another back to back coming up in the middle of the week against these very same Kings. If Turco plays well, maybe you see Auld in Anaheim and then Turco again at Staples. If things don't go so well, maybe Auld takes a crack at Los Angeles. Remember how Mike Smith seemed to play every game against the Coyotes that one year? Sometimes coaches like those match-ups.


The Kings:

Grab your Tamiflu and get your elderly inside. The Kings come to the Metroplex with a third of their team (at last report) exhibiting "flu-like-symptoms." They tried not to use that as an excuse for their loss to Columbus on Saturday night, but the media did a nice job of making it for them. With a full 48 hours since their last opening face-off, I don't think the Stars should expect a weakened group. Like we said, things are always crazy with the Kings.

Los Angeles has dropped three in a row, and they finish their season long six-game road trip tonight in Dallas. They'll be eager to end their trip on a high, and get off their recent slide. They won 4 of their first 5 games, including a win against the Sharks, and an impressive victory in St Louis.

Despite their four wins, the Kings enter the game tonight with some similarly horrid numbers as the Stars. Their PK% is a robust 64.7% and they win an equally impressive 44% of their face-offs. The Stars haven't been much better on the dot, and if they can't win some draws against the Kings tonight, I think it's time to really start panicking.


Injuries:

Dallas: RW Jere Lehtinen (intercostal muscle) is doubtful. C Steve Ott (oblique muscle) and C Mike Modano (ribs) are out. Mike Heika says Steve Ott is making the best progress of the three, and that Mark Fistric could once again see time on the wing, meaning the Stars could dress seven defensemen again.

Brad Richards is reportedly still having some 'soreness' in his legs. There is, apparently, an outside chance that he could miss the game. [UPDATE] Richard Durrett of ESPN says Richards is NOT participating in the morning skate. I don't think that bodes well for tonight. We'll see. Modano, Ott, Lehtinen, Richards (maybe). Looks an awful lot like an injury report from last season.

Los Angeles: Alec Martinez (lower body) is out. Brad Richardson missed their Saturday game with the flu. Additional flu related scratches could be made. (But I wouldn't count on it)

 

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