Interesting day for the Los Angeles Kings today. Tyler Toffoli is back, Jeff Schultz finally may get to set foot on ice in California, Tanner Pearson and Linden Vey are headed to New Hampshire, and Brandon Kozun is off to Canada. All of this is fairly minor, though, because the Kings are in TROUBLE. With a capital T, and also assorted other capital letters. Ring the alarm.
And yet... The Kings are playing their worst hockey of the year, and yet, aside from Tuesday's Columbus ugliness, they haven't really been blown out in any of their past ten games. There also isn't one consistent factor dragging them down. Sure, a soft goal and a few defensive breakdowns doomed them yesterday. But if you asked anyone on a random day in January, the big problem has been either depth scoring, any scoring, the power play, the penalty kill, goaltending, late-period letdowns, bad luck, or Robyn Regehr (because people like blaming him for stuff). The point is, lots of things have gone wrong, but are any of these consistent long-term issues? Or issues that are rearing their head occasionally, but are less concerning on a larger scale?
The next two games are going to go a long way in answering that question. The Anaheim Ducks are coming in off of their first home regulation loss of the season, so any questions about their motivation are moot. Neither team is going to sleepwalk on Thursday, and if it looks like they are skating in mud on Saturday, it'll only be because the refrigeration unit is having terrible problems. The Ducks aren't invincible, and the Kings aren't incompetent. But if the Kings can't pull out a win in one of these games, the questions are going to be back in force.
Now then, let's get to the links, and today we're exclusively covering the Stadium Series game at Dodger Stadium! Today's are provided by Wurstkuche, a Willie Mitchell-approved dining establishment.
(Photo courtesy of mylastbite.com)
- For those wondering if there would be a fan area with pre-game fesitivies: yep! See here for details; some heavily promotional areas (woohoo, GameCenter and Verizon!) but also areas to shoot pucks, give blood without getting punched, and hang out pregame.
- Fox Sports West is doing pre-game and post-game coverage of the game, if you'd rather not stomach Jeremy Roenick and Mike Milbury on NBCSN. However, along with Patrick O'Neal and Sean O'Donnell, the FSW coverage will come with... Brian Hayward. Be warned.
deathly rivalsfriends at Anaheim Calling managed to dig up some ideas for Saturday's game which didn't make the cut.
- Jon Rosen has an article from today about the way in which the "hockey culture" in LA has shifted since 1967. Worth a read. Curtis Zupke wrote a similar, longer piece last week which is also worth a read. The implication, of course, is that this game wouldn't be happening without these long-term changes to how hockey is viewed in California.
- The LA Times has a look at the logistics behind putting a rink in Dodger Stadium. They're fun!
- The NHL confirms... you will be seeing airplane replays on Saturday! Plus, I take back my insult of Jeremy Roenick when he talks nicely about our fanbase. Milbury still sucks.
- Time to reinforce some stereotypes... the Hollywood Reporter would like to inform you that numerous celebrities will attend Saturday's game.
- NHL Revealed debuts tonight at 8:00 PM Pacific on NBCSN. The series focuses on the teams preparing for outdoor games and will feature the Kings. If you miss it, they'll be airing it a few more times before Saturday's game.
We'll end with a tweet that should immediately invalidate any doubts you have about putting a hockey game outside in Los Angeles. Make sure you're all caught up on today's non-outdoor game news and on our coverage of yesterday's loss to the Blue Jackets below.