SUN Hockey Pool

Flames respect Kings

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

With a home-and-home series looming against a division rival, it'd be easy for the Calgary Flames to look past the Los Angeles Kings.

They haven't seen the Vancouver Canucks since their back-to-back losses to open the season, and revenge has to be on their minds.

After a tough game in Los Angeles to start the month of November, though, it's a lot easier for the Flames to remain focused on the Kings.

They're no pushover.

"We know they're a young, talented team that works really hard. Those are the teams that catch you off guard," said defenceman Adrian Aucoin, whose Flames netted a late goal to beat the Kings 3-2 in Los Angeles Nov. 1. "The past few years they've been at the bottom of the standings, guys tend to take them lightly."

Not the Flames. Not anymore.

"That (game in L.A.) makes you a little more familiar. It helps a little bit," said Michael Cammalleri, who wasn't sure what to expect that first time around despite playing alongside a few of the young Kings for the past couple of years.

"With so many young guys, it's personnel that you're just not familiar with. You haven't seen these guys."

Rookies Drew Doughty and Oscar Moller are making the most of their minutes. Defenceman Doughty, the second-overall pick in last spring's draft, is leading the Kings in average ice time and plus/minus rating.

Moller is in a four-game pointless slump, but racked up eight points in his previous dozen outings.

New addition Kyle Quincey was a steal off waivers from the Detroit Red Wings. The 23-year-old has 10 points in 16 games with the Kings.

Twenty-four-year-olds Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown are only getting better, and Alexander Frolov is now considered a veteran at 26.

Veterans and fresh faces, the Kings have played hard all season. They've been involved in 11 one-goal decisions and come out on top of four of them, while earning a point in three others.

"That's another thing you get with a bunch of young guys -- they're just trying to make a name for themselves and become NHL players," said Cammalleri. "They're going to play real hard, and with a lot of energy, and probably leave it all out there. When you're in that position, you feel like you have to."

But it's not just the young ones making the Kings a nightly competitor.

Veterans like defencemen Sean O'Donnell and former Flame Denis Gauthier, as well as centre Michal Handzus are offering solid leadership.

"They've got a lot of good players that are becoming not so young anymore," said Cammalleri.

"Guys are ... stepping their game up and they're getting results."

While a matchup against the Kings may not produce automatic adrenaline the way one against the Canucks would, winger Todd Bertuzzi is up for the outing.

"I think it's refreshing.

I think you get a different look. Over the course of the season you get very familiarized with a lot of the back-to-back, home-and-home games. Whenever you get a different team in here, it refreshes everyone," he said.


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