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Preview, Game Day #19: Los Angeles Kings @ Detroit Red Wings

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Fleeing the Central for the Atlantic was probably the most shrewd tactical move of our times.

kyle clifford moments from taking a tripping penalty, presumably. or it could have been a hook i guess
kyle clifford moments from taking a tripping penalty, presumably. or it could have been a hook i guess
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Kings @ Detroit Red Wings

Time: 4:30 Pacific

TV: Fox Sports West, Fox Sports Detroit+

Enemy Reading: Winging it in Motown

Los Angeles Kings

Pearson-Kopitar-Gaborik
Lucic-Carter-Toffoli
Brown-Shore-Lewis
Clifford-Andreoff-Nolan

McNabb-Doughty
Muzzin-Martinez
Forbort-McBain

Enroth
(Quick)

Scratched: Ehrhoff, Weal Injured: King, Greene

Detroit Red Wings

Abdelkader-Zetterberg-Larkin
Richards-Datsyuk-Pulkkinen
Tatar-Sheahan-Nyquist
Miller-Glendening-Helm

Kronwall-Green
Dekeyser-Ericsson
Smith-Marchenko

Mrazek
(Howard)

Scratched: Andersson, Kindl Injured: Franzen, Ferraro, Quincey

Stats & Such
(Small sample size warning. Fancy stats courtesy War on Ice)

Team Kings Red Wings
Record 12-6-0 9-8-2
Points 24 20
Division Rank 1st 4th
Streak Won 3
OTL 1
Goals For/Game 2.56 2.21
Goals Against/Game 2.11
2.47
ES Goal % 47.1
48.1
ES Shot %
53.7
46.3
ES PDO 98.3
100.5
ES Corsi % 56.0
48.8
ES Fenwick % 55.5
47.0
ES Scoring Chance % 54.2
48.6
ES High-Danger SC % 52.2
48.8
Power Play % (Rank) 21.4 (8th)
16.7 (22nd)
Penalty Kill % (Rank) 86.6 (3rd)
82.8 (10th)
Starting Goalie (tonight) Enroth Mrazek
Goalie Record 3-0-0
5-4-1
Save % .979 .934
ES Save % .972
.946

Notes:

  • Ladies and gentlemen I believe it has finally happened: the Detroit Red Wings are pretty bad!!! Sure, okay, they're sitting at a game above .500. They also have their worst advanced stats since the lockout (the season-long one, not the latest one). Don't believe me? From 05-06 through 14-15, the Red Wings never dipped below 50% in even strength Corsi or Fenwick. In fact, their Corsi percentage for that entire range is by far the best in the league at 55.1% (2nd place Chicago comes in at 53.3%, so not even really that close), and they also lead the league over that time with a 54.7% Fenwick. So far this year- and granted it's early but 19 games is still nearly a quarter of the way through the season- they have a 48.8% even strength Corsi & 47% Fenwick. That's a pretty steep drop-off! Even if we only look at last year's numbers, we're still talking about a drop from 53.5% Corsi & 52% Fenwick. Something just isn't the same about this year's Red Wings.
  • Of course, the biggest difference that jumps out at you immediately is the fact that the Red Wings switched their head coach. It's an easy thing to point to, but that doesn't necessarily make it untrue. It's also interesting to point out that while the Babcock-less Red Wings have seen this steep decline in puck possession, his new team in Toronto has seen their Corsi improve from 46.4% last year to 49.4% so far this season, and Fenwick has gone from 46.2 to 49.6%. That sounds pretty solidly like there's a huge Babcock factor here, right? Well, you have to dig a little deeper into Toronto's numbers from last year and remember who their head coach was for much of the season. Under Randy Carlyle, the Leafs had a 44.6% Corsi and 45.5% Fenwick through their first 40 games. In 42 games without him behind the bench, the Leafs' Corsi was 48.2% and their Fenwick was 47.3%. So basically when you break it down like that, Babcock deserves some credit, but an absence of Carlyle deserves some as well! I suppose this is only tangentially related to our opponents tonight, but I am never one to turn down a chance to laugh at Randy Carlyle.
  • Keeping the topic on head coaches, Detroit's new coach Jeff Blashill has come out and said the Red Wings aren't playing like a playoff team. Which I guess makes sense, because they aren't one right now. Even in the Atlantic Division, the only division in the NHL that can give the Pacific a run for its money in weakness, Detroit currently sits on the outside looking in. On the upside, they're only 1 point behind the Lightning for 3rd in the division with two games in hand on them. But on the other hand, Boston & Florida are both one point behind Detroit (and Boston has a game in hand on them) and Buffalo is 2 points back, so things are very tight right now. Still, you'd have to think the Red Wings much prefer playing these teams than the likes of St. Louis, Nashville, Dallas, Chicago and the rest of the Central murderers' row. It helps to whine and moan until you finally get your way, I guess.
  • Meanwhile, the Kings are coming off another win in Philadelphia, in a shootout no less (!), which was their third victory in a row. However, they've been unable to cushion their lead in the Pacific because the 2nd place Sharks are in the midst of their own four-game win streak. The Sharks are just two points back of the Kings for 1st place, though the Kings do have a game in hand.
  • It sounds as though Christian Ehrhoff will sit out again tonight, as Derek Forbort took the first rotation with McBain and will likely stay in the lineup. But it's Darryl Sutter so there's really no way to know that for sure. Meanwhile, Enroth was first off the ice, so he should be getting his fourth start as a King. Obviously I don't have to tell you how fantastic he's been, nor do I have to tell you he's not going to finish the season with a save % that's a stone's throw away from .980, either.
  • Between the pipes for the Red Wings will be Petr Mrazek, certainly a big bright spot for the struggling team thus far. In ten appearances he's sitting pretty with a .934 sv% and, more importantly, a sparkling .946 at even strength. He's all but taken the starting job from Jimmy Howard, who's own .918 sv% is nothing to write home about (though still better than Quick's .915!).
  • I would be remiss not to at least mention that the Kings are 0-5-1 in their last six games in Detroit. And that one point came in.....you know what, let's just not.
  • Instead let's get to the important question: which Mega Man villain are you, Red Wings? And the answer is:
    Gravity Man
    GRAVITY MAN!!! Gravity Man comes to us from 1992's Mega Man 5, one of the "why is this series still on the NES, the SNES has been out for a while, this is weird" games. He knows well what the Red Wings have been learning for the past few years- what goes up must inevitably come down. And after a long run of sustained success, the Wings have failed to get out of the first round in 3 of the past 4 years. Now, as we already discussed, they're putting up some of their worst underlying stats in years and don't look like a playoff team even in an extraordinarily weak division, so they're indeed plummeting back to the Earth with the force of gravity itself. Where the Wings and Gravity Man differ is in 'ol Grav's ability to bend that force to his will. During your battle with him, he constantly shifts gravity back and forth in an attempt to disorient and confuse you, and will do a ton of damage if he collides with you in the process. However, like the Red Wings, if properly prepared for he actually isn't very difficult to beat. The Star Crash, obtained from Star Man, is his weakness, and it both does a ton of damage to him (killing him in just 7 hits) AND negates his own shots (because there's no gravity in space, get it? those Mega Man programmers get deep sometimes). With the power of the stars you can beat Gravity Man, and the Kings come from a land of stars, so they should have no problem beating the Red Wings tonight.
  • PREDICTION: Kings win, 3-0, thanks to goals by three of the brightest stars to ever light up my life: Kopitar, Carter, and Toffoli.