Game Day #28: Kings-Blues Preview

USA TODAY Sports

Let's do it to them again, shall we?

Los Angeles Kings v St. Louis Blues (Staples Center)

Time: 7:30 PM

TV: Fox Sports West (for the 29th straight time!)

Enemy reading: St. Louis Game Time

Blues (projected) lineup:

Steen-Backes-Oshie
Berglund-Roy-Stewart    
Schwartz-Sobotka-Tarasenko    
Morrow-Lapierre-Cracknell    

Pietrangelo-Bouwmeester    
Shattenkirk-Jackman    
Colaiacovo-Polak

Halak

Injured: Jordan Leopold, Ryan Reaves; Scratched: Magnus Paajarvi, Ian Cole

Kings (projected) lineup:

King-Kopitar-Carter
Brown-Stoll-Williams
Nolan-Richards-Toffoli
Clifford-Fraser-Frattin

Muzzin-Doughty
Regehr-Voynov
Mitchell-Martinez

Scrivens

Injured: Jonathan Quick, Matt Greene, Trevor Lewis; Scratched: Tanner Pearson, Linden Vey, Daniel Carcillo

Game notes:
  • The fine people at St. Louis Game Time are going with "Screw the Past" as their motto today. The Kings, surely, are taking the opposite approach.
  • Why? A sweep in 2012 and a hard-fought first-round win in 2013, of course! I'm sure Robert will drop a few video clips in the gamethread post tonight, but I'll jump the gun because I was lucky enough to see this one live.
  • Of course, one moment from last year's playoffs we're willing to forget was the Game 1 goal in overtime. Of course, Jonathan Quick can't repeat his memorable gaffe tonight; the injured Quick has been replaced by Ben Scrivens, who has no problems with handling the puck whatsoever.
  • The scorer of that infamous goal was Alexander Steen, who has been nothing short of magnificent this season for the Blues. His 20 goals in 25 games have put him squarely in the Hart Trophy conversation, though his 23.8% shooting percentage is most likely... everybody say it with me... unsustainable!
  • Carlo Colaiacovo is back in the lineup for St. Louis tonight. Thank goodness, because we almost missed a chance to remind you that this exists. Meanwhile, Magnus Paajarvi has the flu, so he'll be replaced by Adam Cracknell.
  • This is an obligatory reminder that David Backes and Dustin Brown are both potential captains of the US Olympic team. It pains me to say that Backes has been better this year... especially because I've been really obnoxious in the past when Brown has outplayed Backes in the playoffs.
  • Backes also has a bond with Anze Kopitar, in that they are the two best hopes of breaking the stranglehold that Patrice Bergeron, Pavel Datsyuk, and Jonathan Toews will have on the Selke Trophy in the next few years. But try beating Boston, Detroit, and Chicago in the race for an award when you're a Blue or a King. You're darn right I have my tinfoil hat on.
  • St. Louis has been in fine form but is coming off a 6-3 loss to San Jose, which may or may not mean something. The Kings, meanwhile, are in not-so-fine form after a stunning loss at home to Calgary.
  • Changes are afoot: Matt Frattin returns from injury and slots right back in on the fourth line, while Jordan Nolan gets a plum assignment with Mike Richards and Tyler Toffoli, Jarret Stoll gets a top-six role, and Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar will terrify the opposing team on a line with Dwight King.
  • As Robert noted after last year's first round, Darryl Sutter often matched his top line and top pairing against the Blues' top line. So expect Kopitar vs. Backes tonight. Will he trust Doughty and Muzzin to take care of one of the league's most productive lines, or will he rotate them with the rest of the defensemen?
  • It's the 3rd-highest team shot percentage vs. the lowest team shot percentage! And for nerds, the 2nd-highest Fenwick vs. the 2nd-highest Corsi!
  • Prediction: Kings win 4-1; Tyler Toffoli breaks his goalscoring drought, while Steen gets the only goal because regression is a lie.

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