In general, I think "for whatever reason, Team [x] can't beat Team [y] narratives" are bullshit. Usually, Team [x] can't beat Team [y] for one of two concrete reasons: either Team [y] is clearly better, or Team [y] plays a system that Team [x] doesn't know how to handle. That being said, for whatever reason, the Kings have had a heap of trouble with the Colorado Avalanche lately, and I can't figure out why.
The last Kings-Avs game, the Kings came out strong in the first period, faltered in the second, and totally collapsed in the third, giving up three goals and the game and I don't know why. The Avalanche are a fast young team, which the Kings have shown some trouble handling, but they don't play a particularly unusual system, and they were (still are) missing one of their two best players and look at their porous defence and...yeah, I just don't get it.
Los Angeles Kings vs Colorado Avalanche (Staples Centre)
Time: 1.00 PM Pacific
TV: NHL Network, Fox Sports West
Enemy reading: Mile High Hockey
Avalanche (projected) lineup:
Injured: Downie (ACL), Johnson (concussion), Wilson (ankle)
Kings (projected) lineup:
Injured: Greene (back), Mitchell (knee), Martinez (too beautiful for this world/upper body)
- Youngest Captain Ever (tm) Gabriel Landeskog returns tonight, which is obviously a big boost for his team. He might be a little rusty after sitting out the past eleven games, but the reigning Calder Trophy winner is still likely to slot into the Avalanche's top line.
- Ryan O'Reilly is still un-signed. Which isn't terribly relevant to this game, but seems a little crazy, doesn't it?
- Tyson Barrie is the only Avalanche defenceman who has scored a goal this season. The whole team, like the Kings, has had difficulty scoring goals (a gpg of 2.47 (23rd) versus the Kings' gpg of 2.33 (25th)), but their defence has been staggeringly ineffective at offensive production.
- For the Kings' defence, Campbell-Watch continues. Newly acquired Keaton Ellerby has been unimpressive in his last two outings, leading Coach Sutter to decrease his ice time and juggle the defensive pairings. If he continues to struggle, we will presumably get to see AHL call-up Andrew Campbell dressed sooner rather than later.
- Robert's latest post provides a lot of interesting context to the Kings' recent line-shuffling, particularly the promotion of Trevor "no hands" Lewis to the top-6. Lots of people last season credited Darryl Sutter for essentially resurrecting Lewis' career, and it's clear that Sutter has put a lot of thought into positioning Lewis (and by extension the whole team) for success.
- Some brief fun with numbers: the Kings and Avalanche sport nearly identical records (7-6-2 and 7-7-1, respectively), and both teams enter today's game after winning their last two. The Avs are 2-5-0 on the road, while the Kings are 2-1-1 at home. Semyon Varlamov's stats against the Kings are depressingly good: 4-1-0, 1.77 gaa, .942 sv%. Jon Quick's record against the Avalanche: 7-4-1, 2.73 gaa, .894 sv%.
- Remember last game when I said that Flames-Kings was likely not going to be a special teams showcase? Well, the Avs powerplay is ranked 27th in the League and their penalty kill is ranked 21st, so...yeah, that. Again.
- It's Ian Laperriere Legends Night.
- Go Kings Go
**FYI: There's a neat contest to win free tickets from our site's partner going on right now: