Team heads for Austria

Times Staff Writer

With the Kings already scheduled to face the Ducks to open the regular season with two games in London, it made for a good fit for them to join Farjestad BK of the Swedish Elite League, HC Davos of the Swiss National League and host EC Red Bull Salzburg in a four-team tournament in Austria as a tuneup.

The tournament, named “Red Bulls Salute 2007,” will start Tuesday and be played on a bigger international rink in Eisarena Salzburg.

The Kings will open against EC Red Bull, the defending champions of Austria, and if they win, they will play either Farjestad BK or HC Davos in the championship game Wednesday night. If the Kings lose to EC Red Bull, they will play in a consolation game.


Kings Coach Marc Crawford said his team’s main goal was to be ready for the Ducks and use the tournament as another step in preparation for the regular season.

“We’ll get in a couple of good tuneup games,” Crawford said. “And with the big ice surface, it will give us a chance to zero in on our coverage and how we defend in our zone.

“The rules are always the same but you have more area to cover. I think that could end up being a real plus for us because we have a chance to develop better habits for when the games get back on North American ice.”

“The important games are coming and we’re not going to lose sight of that,” Crawford added.

The Kings head to Europe playing their best hockey of the preseason, defeating Colorado, 3-2, in a shootout Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. It was a game that featured scrappy play on both ends of the ice and Crawford liked how his players competed.

“We were hoping that we played our strongest game before we left and that’s what we did,” Crawford said. “We got it done in some subtle areas. [Patrick] O’Sullivan made a nice play at the end, getting the puck out of the zone and Brady Murray was key for us all night.


“They are not big guys, at least not the type when you think of gritty-gritty people. But they are competitive and strong on pucks and I really believe that’s the new grit in the National Hockey League.”

Crawford also had positive words to say about rookie goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who played the entire game and stopped 24 shots.

“We don’t want to get too carried away with it but he’s played very well and that’s all you can ask,” Crawford said. “He keeps making solid performances for us.”

Energy drink entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz is owner of EC Red Bull Salzburg and shares ownership with Kings owner Phil Anschutz of Red Bull Stadium, future home of Mateschitz’s New York Red Bulls team of Major League Soccer.