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Kings-Wild Preview: Pushing to the limit

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Since we last tangled with the Minnesota Wild...

IN: Jason Zucker, just signed out of the University of Denver; Backstrom and Koivu have returned from injury.

OUT: Matt Cullen (finger), Guillaume Latendresse, Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussions), Matt Kassian, Mike Lundin (hernias)

Enemy reading: Hockey Wilderness

Possible lines:

Heatley-Koivu-Setoguchi
Zucker-Christensen-Johnson
Clutterbuck-Brodziak-Powe
Veilleux-Peters-Ortmeyer

Scandella-Prosser
Stoner-Gilbert
Falk-Kampfer

Backstrom

Kings lineup:

Richardson-Kopitar-Brown
King-Richards-Williams
Penner-Stoll-Lewis
Clifford-Fraser-Nolan

Scuderi-Doughty
Mitchell-Voynov
Martinez-Greene

Jonathan Bernier?*

(*I think the Kings have learned their lesson about horrid back-to-backs, but sometimes they have to learn it three times.)

The Kings finished off the Oilers in convincing fashion last night, hopped on a plane, and got to sleep in their hotel at the reasonable hour of four in the morning. This is not the first time this has happened this season, either. I already knew they have the toughest schedule in the NHL, but moments like these make me want to shake my fist in ineffectual rage, like Grandpa Simpson at a cloud.

The number of Minnesota players who'll care about this stands at zero, of course. Koivu and Backstrom have returned, strengthening their roster. Young guys like Zucker are competing for future roster spots and looking to impress. Nothing about this will be easy.

Darryl Sutter continued to roll all four lines last night--the difference between Kopitar and Fraser's icetime at even strength was 11:31 versus 11:03--so let's hope they have something left in the tank. If they can push through to get another win, their reward will be hanging on to the top spot in the Pacific.