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Game Day Preview #75, Los Angeles Kings @ Calgary Flames

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Need some drama? Enter: Drew Doughty

NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Calgary Flames Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

HOW TO WATCH

Game Time: 6:00 PM Pacific
TV: Fox Sports West
Radio: iHeart Radio
The Opposition: Matchsticks & Gasoline

Please Help, This Team Is Eating Itself Alive

You want controversy? You want GAME SEVENTY-FIVE controversy?

Well, here we go.

Ilya Kovalchuk, he of the Healthy Scratch For No Given Reason, isn’t even traveling on this Western Canada road trip. Instead, per reports, he is staying back in Los Angeles to work with the Kings’ skill and development staff.

With Willie Desjardins intent on continuing to scratch Kovalchuk, the decision was made to keep Kovalchuk at home. And while Desjardins’ explanation of the scenario is less than satisfactory — holding out your 35-year old goal scorer so he can “work on his stuff” seems arbitrary at best — the staycation at least seems voluntary, based on Kings Insider Jon Rosen’s description of the situation.

So there’s that.

Brendan Leipsic has also stayed behind, but he’s dealing with a lower body injury sustained in last week’s game against the Sharks. At this point in the season, not pushing injured players back into the lineup is the best plan, so this one makes sense.

The Kings recalled Mike Amadio for the road trip, which would give them 12 healthy bodies.

Except, well.

Mike Amadio’s going to be a scratch, in favor of going the 11F/7D route, again, because it appears as though Desjardins seems to think that since he’s had success with the tactic before, that it’s going to continue to work. So instead of getting three road games in which you can evaluate a young center — a position at which the Kings have been surprisingly weak — Amadio will sit, at least for tonight.

That means that Kurtis MacDermid draws in, and if you’ve read anything I’ve written on this site about the role of the enforcer, hockey fights, or just Having A Large Man Who Is Large But Bad At The Hockey, you’ll know how I (continue to) feel about that. Only:

Drew Doughty had to go and do what Drew Doughty does best, which is run his mouth, something he is spectacularly good at.

The Flames, having already easily clinched a playoff spot, don’t precisely need any more bulletin board material to get up for this game, but Doughty just handed it to them, two handfuls of trash talk nonsense. And whether or not anyone drops the gloves or takes a run at someone else, it’s comments like this, and the potential fallout from them, that are how the team will justify continuing to play a player who brings little to the ice in his 8:34 average time on ice.

Whatever, Tell Us About The Flames

The Flames are very good. They have 101 points, to date the best in the West, and are pulling further and further away from their competition. They’re also very close to securing home ice advantage for at least the first round of the playoffs; a Calgary win and Las Vegas loss would do the trick.

They’ve won six of their last 10, and in those wins, have put up between three and nine (yes, nine) (yes, you’re allowed to score that many, I promise) goals on teams. While only one of the teams they defeated is in a playoff position (Vegas), with one more knocking on the door (Columbus), the fact is: the Flames can score, and they’re also finally getting consistent enough goaltending that they don’t always necessarily need to outscore their problems.

But just in case they do:

Johnny Gaudreau has a ridiculous 92 points and 35 goals, which I think may be illegal in some places. Matthew Tkachuk has 35 goals, which is nearly as many points as Drew Doughty has entirely.

Mike Smith, scheduled to start because David Rittich is under the weather, is, well, Mike Smith, but he’s always done very well against the Kings in his career. He’s 18-9-2, with a save percentage of .929 and 2.26 goals against average.

Here Are Some Familiar Faces

Lineup Notes

Mike Amadio and Paul LaDue stayed out for extra work so are likely the healthy scratches tonight, which means, yes, 11F/7D.

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