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Kings-Predators Preview: The Plus-Carter World

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Since we last had a wild one against the Nashville Predators...

IN: Brandon Yip

OUT: Defensemen Kevin Klein and Roman Josi are day-to-day. Paul Gaustad is questionable for tonight.

Enemy reading: On the Forecheck

Possible lines:

A. Kostitsyn-Legwand-Hornqvist
S. Kostitsyn-Fisher-Erat
Wilson-Spaling-Tootoo
Yip-Gaustad?-Smith

Suter-Weber
Hillen-Gill
Bouillon-Ellis

Kings lineup: On the second half of a back-to-back, Preds-tormenter Jonathan Bernier may get the start; but this is far from certain, as Sutter has gone with Quick before.

Ten games after the Carter trade, what do the numbers look like? "Great" doesn't quite cover it:

  • They're now averaging 3.3 goals per game* (compared to 2.05 prior)
  • Limiting goals against at the same rate (2.10 per game)
  • Improving on the PK from 86% to 88% overall, plus scoring three shorthanded goals
  • Converting 24% on the PP (compared to 16.3% prior)

*excluding the shootout goal vs. Chicago

While there are limitations in comparing a short stretch of games to the bulk of season, it's hard to deny the impact of their improved forward depth. Jeff Carter's speed, size, and dangerous shot have added much-needed punch to the shutdown line (5G, 2A). The top line is flourishing; Kopitar, Brown, and Williams account for half of their goals over the last ten (16 out of 33). The trade has also allowed Brown to move down to the second unit power play, which has been very effective overall with Voynov and Martinez getting shots through. Overall, this team appears to have finally found confidence.

But as sparkling as their numbers are, there's no time for pats on the back. There are no breathers. Just the challenge of each game, and the last leg of the marathon still to go.