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Dallas Remembers Why They Love the Kings

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If Heath Biter failed to give you a rotten feeling about the Kings' chances this year, how does a 5-1 drubbing to a division rival treat you? To make matters worse, the points weren't taken by, say, the San Jose Sharks or Anaheim Ducks - two Pacific Division sides boasting some of the best odds of winning the Cup. Instead, the LA players had their asses handed to them by the Dallas Stars, a squad predicted by many pundits to join the Kings on the golf links come playoff time.

Four games deep, I already find myself made weary by the Kings' uninspired effort. Unpleasant visions of last season are all too reminiscent. Coach Marc Crawford's boys are too frequently losing one-on-one battles, turning the puck over in dangerous spots, and failing to apply sustained pressure in the offensive zone. It's hard to win like that, especially when Dallas is sending out guys like Niklas Hagman (two goals, and one lucky save away from a hat-trick) and jamming Marty Turco between the pipes.

The Kings lost all eight games against the Stars last year, and a 5-1 loss to start this season's series proves unpromising for the remaining games. I'll make sure to watch all seven though, if for nothing else than to watch the adventures of Turco. A brilliant stopper who often elicits memories of old-school King Robb "Blue Line" Stauber, Turco never stays far from the center of attention. Just as often as I'm cursing him for extinguishing Kings chances, I'm getting a kick out of watching him stray ridiculously far from his crease and throw a few pops at opponents who skate too close. After his on-mic antics at last year's All-Star Game revealed a pretty healthy sense of humor, I needed no further reason to adopt him as a new favorite.

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It's a sad state of affairs when you find yourself focusing on the play of non-LA players to keep yourself entertained. After watching my Kings fish the fifth puck out of their net, however, rationalizing this behavior becomes quite a bit easier to do.

AP photo by Donna McWilliam