Game 2: Kings misfire against Flames

Los Angeles Kings' Jake Muzzin, left, collides with Calgary Flames' Tim Jackman during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Calgary, Alberta, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2010.Game 2: Flames 3, Kings 1

The Kings followed up their impressive season opener against the Vancouver Flames with a lackluster performance against the Calgary Flames.

The one stat that kept floating around online and on TV was the fact that the club hadn't won in Calgary in 10 tries. the L.A. Times' Helene Elliott pointed out that only Dustin Brown was the only Kings to have taken part in a win at the Saddledome.

And while history rarely factors in the end result of actual games, the truth of the matter is being a young team should benefit the Kings. Last season, there were eight times that the Kings played back-to-back; they won five of the second games.

The Kings played a more-focused Flames team, who were blanked by Edmonton in their home opener. The Flames came out playing with their hair on fire (no pun intended.) They outshot the Kings, 32-22, and limited the Kings to one shot on goal on the L.A. power play.  The Flames doubled the Kings' shots in the third, 14-7, eliminating any chance of a tying goal by Los Angeles.

The game was Jonathan Bernier's season debut, and he looked fine. There wasn't much he could do on the Flames's goals. Short-handed goals, like Curtis Glencross's in the second period, are always tough to swallow.  And Craig Conroy's goal was screened by Davis Drewiske. Bernier stopped 29 of 31 shots, Jonathan Quick stopped 23 of 24 shots against Vancouver on Saturday. Let the comparisons begin.

If you had to cast blame for the loss, you would have to start with the team's weakness from last season: 5-on-5 scoring. And while many people are breathing a sigh of relief that Dean Lombardi didn't saddle the Kings with a hefty contract like Ilya Kovalchuk's, the fact remains is the team is one gun short of a full arsenal.

Anze Kopitar led all Kings skaters in ice time, but he's still looking to pass first. He set up the Kings' sole goal by Dustin Brown, who led the team in shots. Jarret Stoll was a monster in the faceoff circle, winning all but two drops. Michal Handzus, however, was abysmal, losing 11 of 15 faceoffs. Maybe he needs to take pointers from Stoll by playing NHL11, who gave his input to the game's developers, EA Sports, this off-season.

Also, I'm just gonna put this out there, for the record... But Drew Doughty looks a little unfocused to start the season. I know it's 82 games, and there's miles to go before we put a bow on this whole thing. But Doughty's penchant for finding the box may start becoming a nuisance if he doesn't start addressing his play on the ice.

Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier makes a save against the Calgary Flames during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Calgary, Canada on Sunday, Oct. 10, 2010. The Flames defeated the Kings 3-1.And now, a new feature: The Good, The Bad and the U-G-L-Y.

The Good: The Kings penalty kill, which has now killed off eight of ten penalties for the first two games. Also, props to Jonathan Bernier's throwback mask, which is also a tribute to Kings' legend Rogie Vachon. Even though he didn't wear it Sunday night, he took practice in it and InGoal Magazine got some shots of it. Check it out!

The Bad: The Kings' 5-on-5, which still continues to frustrate Terry Murray, Dean Lombardi and Kings fans everywhere. Also, the decision by Brent Sutter to sit Raitis Ivanans, not allowing Kings fans to see a Westgarth/Ivanans scrap. Bad form, Sutter.

The U-G-L-Y: Kevin Westgarth's two penalties caused Terry Murray to affix his young enforcer's butt to the bench the rest of the game. He did take the focus away from Alexei Ponikarovsky's three penalties last game. Brad Richardson's ill-timed high stick should be placed here as well, which pretty much killed the Kings' comeback attempt in the third.

• AP: Kiprusoff makes 21 saves in Flames’ win
“I didn’t even see it go in, to be honest. I looked and saw the red light go on and I was like, ‘That went in?”’ Craig Conroy said, who had three goals in 63 games last season. “Maybe it just surprised me more than anything, I don’t know if I’ve scored from out there with a wrist shot in a long time.
• LA Times: Kings still aren't able to win at Calgary
(Kopitar's) setup for Brown produced the Kings' first five-on-five goal this season and stirred reminders of their weakness in that area last season. In their season opener Saturday at Vancouver they had scratched out a 2-1 victory with a power-play goal and a shootout triumph. "We're going to have to pick it up offensively, for sure," Kopitar said.
• LA Kings: Kings lose to Flames 3-1
House of horrors? Yes, but as Kings coach Terry Murray pointed out after the game, arena architecture has nothing to do with it. It's the Kings' play that has often doomed them to defeats.
• NHL.com: Flames bounce back with win over Kings
"Unfortunately, we gave that game to them with opportunities on the power play, the shorthanded goal, and the second goal was a turnover trying to make a cute play inside the offensive blue line and they came right back at us," Kings coach Terry Murray said.
They said it
“It would have been nice to start with a win, but the first one is out and now I’ve just got to get better at things. This is my first game, and I don’t think it was our best game defensively. We had a lot of odd-man rushes, but with two games in two nights, we just have to regroup and be ready for Tuesday.” – Jonathan Bernier, on his first game.
“For some reason, whenever we come here Kiprusoff always stands on his head. In four years and one game here, I don’t remember us scoring more than three goals, I think. We’re going to have to bump that number up a little bit. – Anze Kopitar, on the lack of success in Calgary
“When they limit time and space, it’s a little tougher, but as professionals you’ve got to overcome those situations. Obviously our power play has to be better. It’s unacceptable, for whatever reason." – Ryan Smyth on the Flames’ strong play against the Kings in Calgary.
 

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