Flames wary of powerful Kings
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CALGARY, Alberta -- The Calgary Flames will do wise to stay out of the penalty box on Thursday because their opponent is feeling good about their power play.
The Los Angeles Kings are in town on the heels of a 5-0 victory in Edmonton on Tuesday that was decided by a third-period man advantage that brought three goals.
It was the result a controversial hit by Oilers big man Patrick Maroon on Kings star defensemen Drew Doughty that drew a two-game suspension.
Doughty left for concussion protocol after the second period collision but returned for the decisive third.
"When stuff like that happens, your team just comes together," Doughty said after the game. "Not that we were ever apart, but our team came together and scoring three goals on the power play to really (make Edmonton pay) was really awesome."
The Kings (24-11-5) come to Calgary with a Western Conference-best 13-6-2 road record. The Tampa Bay Lightning are the only other team with as many wins away from home.
The Kings hot power play was a topic of discussion after practice in Calgary on Wednesday.
"We had a day in Vancouver to really just dedicate the day to that theme of power play, and I think it really helped us, I think this group's done a good job," coach John Stevens told Jon Rosen of Fox Sports West.
"We've always talked about the power play, it needs to be a weapon that can help you win games, but it shouldn't be something that you sit around and rely on to win games," Stevens said.
The Kings host the Nashville Predators on Saturday and then get a one-week break before a visit by Anaheim.
Calgary (19-6-4) has been inconsistent on home ice with only 10 wins in 21 games at the Saddledome. They are coming off a 4-3 overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks at home on New Year's Eve.
The Flames practiced Wednesday but not on the ice were Mikael Backlund (maintenance), Micheal Ferland (maintenance), Jaromir Jagr (maintenance), and Freddie Hamilton, who was placed on waivers Wednesday morning.
Jagr, 45, has struggled with injuries this season but has played back-to-back games now and, if he's playing Thursday, is likely to take a spot on a line with Matthew Tkachuk and Backlund. That spot is open because of the broken jaw suffered by Michael Frolik.
Flames coach Glen Gulutzan was asked about Jagr's struggles to stay healthy and answered he's aware it hasn't been easy. He's missed 17 games with what was believe to be a groin problem.
"He wears it well but it's been hard on him," Gulutzan said. "Look at his career -- not many times has he not played. It's tough on anybody but it's tough on someone who hasn't been injured very much."
Gulutzan was also asked about relying on young call-ups from Stockton of the American Hockey League in the second-half drive to possibly playoff spot. Mark Jankowski and Garnet Hathaway started the season in the AHL but are now playing regular minutes in Calgary. They has now been joined by Andrew Mangiapane, who played his first NHL game against Chicago.
Gulutzan dodged a comparison to the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have won back-to-back Stanley Cups relying heavily on players developed in the AHL.
"It's not as simple as saying you're going to put in young guys and you're going to win," he said.
"Your organization's got to be at the right spot. Pittsburgh when they did that that was a high-powered Wilkes-Barre team. Those guys were putting up numbers there for more than one season. Those guys could come in and immediately help ... We're getting to that point in our organization but it's not as easy as saying let's grab young guys.
"Seasoned enough and paid their dues enough those guys can help you."
Updated January 4, 2018