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Potvin Ready for Former Team

April 02, 2001|HELENE ELLIOTT

Goaltender Felix Potvin has been nearly unbeatable lately, so he didn't know how to take his loss to teammate Ian Laperriere Sunday in a spirited pingpong game at HealthSouth training center.

"Yeah, he beat me," Potvin said. "He was kind of happy about it."

Few others have gotten the better of him. Potvin tonight will make his 20th consecutive start, and he is thriving on the activity.

Potvin takes a two-game shutout streak into the game against the Vancouver Canucks, who figured trading him and the $800,000 left on his contract would be addition by subtraction. Although some Vancouver reporters wondered if the Canucks made the deal to sabotage the Kings' playoff chances, Potvin's steady play instead has threatened the Canucks' playoff hopes. If the Kings beat the Canucks tonight, the Kings will move into the seventh spot in the Western Conference standings.

Potvin said Sunday that he bears no grudge toward his former team and is thinking only of helping the Kings, not hurting the Canucks.

"This time of year makes it pretty easy to focus on what you have to do," he said. "No matter who you play, you just have to win.

"It's always fun to play your old team. Especially in these circumstances, where the game is so big. But you can't get caught up in all those distractions."

Although he said he has made no technical adjustments since he was traded, his numbers are dramatically different. With Vancouver, he was 14-17-3-2 in 35 games with one shutout, a 3.08 goals-against average and .887 save percentage. He also was prone to giving up soft goals.

In 19 games with the Kings, he's 11-4-4 with a 1.96 goals-against average and .916 save percentage. He has maintained his concentration and has imparted a sense of confidence to his teammates. He still stays back in the net, but he has played his angles well and left few dangerous rebounds.

"I just went back to what brought me to the NHL," he said. "I come to the games with a clear mind, not thinking about anything else, and it's just clicking."

King Coach Andy Murray said he expects Potvin to have the same calm approach today.

"The two points are so darned important," Murray said. "I think we've been so focused on the two points . . . it overrides anything else."

vs. Canucks

7:30, Fox Sports Net

* Site--Staples Center.

* Radio--KSPN (1110).

* Records--Kings 36-28-12-2, Canucks 35-26-11-7.

* Record vs. Canucks--2-0.

* Update--King left wing Stu Grimson faces a two-game suspension for receiving his third instigator penalty Saturday, but the Kings appealed the suspension to the NHL. They say the instigator penalty wasn't warranted because Grimson didn't seek out Colorado's Scott Parker. The Canucks miss top scorer Markus Naslund (broken leg) and center Andrew Cassels (sprained ankle).

* Tickets--Sold out.

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