LA Kings @ Calgary Flames, 6:30 PST (No TV Tonight)
LA Dodgers @ San Diego Padres, 4:00 PST
The coming of Spring means 2 things: the Kings are out of the playoff hunt, and the Dodgers are starting. Every year, baseball acts as methadone to get me off my hockey fix. The Dodgers and the Kings are pretty similar: both are young, both usually suck, and both break my heart every year. This year, though, the Dodgers are actually good. They are where the Kings will be in 2 years. The Dodgers have a lot of great young talent (which the Kings have), mercurial ownership (that too) and one of the best players in the game (...no, don't have that). To help our friends who don't have the time or the patience to watch America's Game, here's a helpful guide to get you started.
Russell Martin=Dustin Brown
Both are consistent, grinding players that do all the little things (walks, drawing penalties) well. Both are the "captains" of their respective teams and should belong to their clubs for years to come.
Chad Billingsley=Anze Kopitar
The ace of the staff and the face of the franchise, respectively, both players look to be one of the top players at their position in the future. Billingsley and Kopitar both tend to get overlooked because of where they play yet they match up well with their more-hyped peers. There are constant worries that they won't live up to their potential and that could doom the franchise.
Andre Ethier=Alex Frolov
Overlooked in favor of younger, flashier players, these two are nevertheless key cogs on the team. They both took a while to get going, but they are now near their potential and could become one of the top players in the league if they want to be. Unfortunately, financial constraints could mean that these two great players might join another team very soon.
Clayton Kershaw=Drew Doughty
These two are amazing. While most of their peers are still plying their trade in the minors or in Junior, these two are excelling at the top level. While more seasoned players get more hype now, it is generally acknowledged that these two will be the best players on their respective teams some day.
Matt Kemp=Wayne Simmonds (Does that make me racist?)
Drafted as projects by their clubs, these two surprised people by making the big squad a few years ahead of schedule. Both are raw and still need to mature, but the sky really is the limit for them. Kemp is a few years ahead of Simmonds and could have his big breakout this season, but Simmonds should follow suit in a little while.
James Loney=Jonathan Bernier
These two were expected to be better than they actually are. Loney was projected to be the best player of the Dodgers' crop, while Bernier was expected to follow a path similar to Carey Price and Steve Mason on his way to the NHL; instead, Loney followed up a superb campaign in 2007 with a subpar '08, while Bernier has been passed up by Jonathan Quick and is still struggling to find his consistency in Manchester. Both are still young, but need to step it up in their next season or risk getting replaced.
One is a mercurial slugger with a huge bat, while I want to beat the other with a huge bat. OK, I guess they're not really that similar.
Prediction: Kings win, 3-1. Dustin Brown goes 2-3 with a HR and 2 RBI to lead the Kings to victory. Oh, and Flames fans are really confused right now.