LA Kings (Bad) vs. Detroit Red Wings (Good)
7:30 PST, Fox Sports West
The Kings have come tantalizingly close to defeating the Detroit Red Wings twice this season, only to falter in the most heartbreaking fashion.
First, the Kings were up 3-2 against Detroit in the waning seconds of the third period before Denis Gauthier made a boneheaded pass that was intercepted by Valtteri Filpula; he proceeded to skate in alone and score on Jason Labarbera, tying the game. The Kings would go on to lose in a shootout when Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Marian Hossa somehow bested Dustin Brown, Oscar Moller, and Wayne Simmonds.
Then, the Kings were up 4-3 in Detroit with 4 1/2 minutes to go when Jiri Hudler scored to tie the game. Dan Cleary would score 1 1/2 later and then Kris Draper would score on an empty net to put the game away.
Twice the Kings were leading the Detroit Red Wings and twice they let victory slip through their fingertips. Since they can't beat the Wings, apparently the Kings are going to be satisfied with just beating the Wings. Manchester toughman and Ivy Leaguer Kevin Westgarth has been called up to a Kings team that is in dire need of a little spontaneous destruction. Incumbent goon Raitis Ivanans did not practice yesterday but is expected to play tonight as well. It doesn't make a lot of sense to skate two goons against the wussiest team in the NHL, but apparently the Kings aren't really looking to win tonight. What the Kings need is not necessarily a win but a little fire, a little proof that they're a team. I'm not a big fan of goonery but a little part of me hopes Kevin Westgarth grabs Tomas Holmstrom and starts beating the hell out of him just because I want to see what the Wings would do. (I'm pretty sure the toughest guy on their team is Mike Babcock.) The Kings won't win tonight but the game should nevertheless be entertaining.
Drew Doughty is out tonight after getting kneed in the thigh during the Lightning game. I'm sorry, but isn't this where Terry Murray is supposed to call Doughty a "candy ass" and then Doughty goes out and gets an assist on the game-winning goal? They're even playing against the NHL's version of the Red Army! C'mon, Drew, do it for your country!
Prediction: Kings lose, 5-0. Westgarth tries to fight Andreas Lilja* and embarrasses himself.
*You know the Vietnamese kid that Charlie Sheen yells at and makes dance in Platoon? Andreas Lilja and that Vietnamese kid have the same look on their faces all the time.