Previewing the Los Angeles Kings’ 2012-13 season:
Game 45 vs. Dallas, April 21, 2013, 6pm PST (9pm EST)
The end of an era has arrived in the City of Angels. After 15 seasons, the Los Angeles Kings and Dallas Stars will meet for the final time as division rivals when they square off on Saturday night at Staples Center. But sentimental reasons aside, there is plenty at stake in this contest.
While the Kings are simply jockeying for position for the playoffs, the Dallas Stars are simply looking to get into the postseason for the first time since 2008 when they made it all the way to the Western Conference Final. But after a tough 2-1 loss in St. Louison Friday night, the Stars, despite being a tired bunch, will be swinging for the fences in Los Angeles determined to grab a share of the eighth and final playoff spot in the West and being just two points back, a win against the Kings will do just that.
In their four previous meetings this season, the Stars have beaten the Kings three times including most recently a 5-1 win on April 9 in Dallas. But the Kings won’t be content to simply put the remainder of the regular season in cruise control. In fact, after their third-period collapse in said game, the silver-and-black are determined not to let anything like that happen again.
The Kings may be just a win away from clinching a playoff spot but with Anaheim losing on Friday and idle on Saturday, they still have a shot to win the Pacific Division being only five points back of the Ducks. With that said, it certainly won’t be the end of the world should the Kings fail to win the division. After all, given the events of last spring, the Los Angeles Kings and their fans know all too well that there is something far more important at stake than what head coach Darryl Sutter once referred to as “a dirty banner.”
While Kari Lehtonen has played great against the Kings between the pipes this season, his backup Richard Bachman proved last game that he is just as capable taking on the defending champions. En route to Dallas’ 5-1 win just under two weeks ago, Bachman relieved Lehtonen, who had to leave the game with a lower-body injury, and shone stopping all 22 shots he faced before the Stars opened the floodgates in the third and winning. On the bright side, the Kings won’t have to worry about which netminder they’ll face as they’ll have an equally tough time with either.
While they may have parted ways with the likes of Brenden Morrow, Jaromir Jagr and Derek Roy, the Stars still have a plethora of firepower up front including Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson who are one-two in team scoring and the 41-year-old Ray Whitney who has 11 goals and 15 assists on the year heading into Saturday’s contest. Alex Goligoski is also making some noise in 2013 as he leads all Dallas defensemen with 24 points.
As for the Kings, they got a huge boost last game as big, bruising blueliner Matt Greene came back after missing the last 42 games with a bad back. Drew Doughty is another defenseman on a high having scored in his last game continuing his recent tear after starting the season slowly. Up front, while Jeff Carter continues to help out, the third and fourth lines of the Kings are also doing their part and in order to pick up a win for the home fans on Saturday, that needs to continue.
This is the fifth and final meeting this season between the Stars and Kings and with what’s on the line, it should be an exciting game from start to finish.
Enjoy the game!