Kings at Cal­gary

Tonight, 6 PDT TV: FS West Wild-card stand­ings

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Lisa Dill­man lisa.dill­man@la­times.com Twit­ter: @re­al­lisa

CAL­GARY, Canada — What would Jonas Hiller have said if some­one told him on, say Oct. 1, that a play­off spot might come down to the Kings and Cal­gary Flames in the sec­ond-to-last game of the regular sea­son?

“I thought he was prob­a­bly crazy or what­ever,” Hiller said. The Flames goalie paused. “I was hop­ing he would tell the truth,” he said. “Now be­ing here and hav­ing that chance, hav­ing it in our own hands to qual­ify for the play­offs is def­i­nitely some­thing. It was a goal. But how re­al­is­tic it was . . . at the end, you al­ways be­lieve in it.”

Thurs­day’s game be­tween the Kings and Cal­gary could de­ter­mine plenty or very lit­tle. A loss in reg­u­la­tion and the de­fend­ing Stan­ley Cup cham­pion Kings will not make the play­offs. If the Flames win in reg­u­la­tion, they are in the play­offs for the first time since 2009.

The Kings’ stunning loss to the Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers on Tues­day night meant that the Kings no longer have con­trol over their play­off fate. Kings de­fense­man Drew Doughty com­pared Thurs­day’s con­test to a Game 7 in the play­offs.

“We’ll have to treat it that way,” Doughty said af­ter Wed­nes­day’s prac­tice at the Sad­dle­dome. “It’s a must-win game. It’s our only shot to still get in the play­offs. We’re go­ing to have to play that L.A. Kings style of game, a phys­i­cal game, play well de­fen­sively.

“If we only win by one goal, that’s fine. We need to win in reg­u­la­tion and treat it as a Game 7.”

To start, the Kings need to get some scor­ing from up front.

They have only one goal from a for­ward, Dwight King , in their last two games. King scored against Van­cou­ver, and Doughty and fel­low de­fense­man Jake Muzzin had pow­er­play goals against the Oil­ers.

“It’s tough to win when only your de­fense­men are scor­ing goals,” Kings Coach Dar­ryl Sut­ter said.

They are more familiar with Hiller be­cause of his long ten­ure with the Ana­heim Ducks. Ac­cord­ingly, that cuts the other way too.

“I’ve played those guys prob­a­bly more than any other team,” Hiller said. “It def­i­nitely makes it a lit­tle dif­fer­ent know­ing they’re the de­fend­ing Stan­ley Cup cham­pion. They have been in the play­offs the last few years, all the time. It makes it a lit­tle spe­cial. I know it’s not go­ing to be an easy game. They’re go­ing to put ev­ery­thing out there.”

There are not any ma­jor lineup changes ex­pected for the Kings. For the Flames, for­ward Lance Bouma is day-to-day, mean­ing Bran­don Bol­lig is ex­pected to play. Bol­lig faced the Kings in the West­ern Con­fer­ence fi­nals last sea­son as a mem­ber of the Chicago Black­hawks, who lost in seven games.

“Usu­ally I play my bet­ter games when I’m play­ing against big­ger, tougher teams that are made for the play­offs,” Bol­lig said. “They’ve been around. They know what they need to do.”

Nu­merol­ogy

It gets slightly com­pli­cated at this stage in terms of play­off sce­nar­ios. The sim­ple part: If the Kings lose at Cal­gary in reg­u­la­tion, they will be elim­i­nated.

The Kings also would be elim­i­nated Thurs­day if they lose in over­time or a shootout and Win­nipeg earns a point at Colorado.

If Win­nipeg earns two points over its last two games, the Kings will be elim­i­nated from a wild-card play­off spot.

The Flames need two points in their last two games to get in. They could lose in over­time to both the Kings and Win­nipeg on Satur­day and that would be enough to make it.

There are more sce­nar­ios, but bot­tom line: The Kings en­ter Thurs­day two points be­hind the Flames in the Pa­cific Di­vi­sion and three be­hind the Jets in the wild-card race. The Kings hold the tiebreaker against Win­nipeg, but not against Cal­gary.

Score­board watch­ing, awaits.

TONIGHT

AT CAL­GARY When: 6 PDT. On the air: TV: FS West; Ra­dio: 790. Etc.: Sut­ter went out of his way to com­pli­ment Flames sec­ond-year cen­ter Sean Mon­a­han, putting him in a group with the likes of Chicago’s Jonathan Toews. Mon­a­han has eight-game win­ning goals and 31 over­all. “I don’t think Mon­a­han gets enough credit in the league,” Sut­ter said. “Every­body talks about the cen­ter­men in this con­fer­ence and they don’t talk about Sean Mon­a­han and they should.”

Nam Y. Huh As­so­ci­ated Press

FLAMES GOALIE Jonas Hiller can help his team de­ter­mine its play­off fate.

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