Los Angeles Kings (Staples Center)
Time: 7:00 PM PST
Enemy Reading: Raw Charge
Tampa Bay Lightning
Scratched: Brenden Morrow, Mark Barberio; Injured: Matt Carle, Radko Gudas
Los Angeles Kings
Scratched: Andreoff, Forbort; Injured: Pearson, Martinez; Suspended: Voynov
- Two days after a really terrible loss to the Florida Panthers, LA bounced back with a unlikely win on February 7 in Tampa Bay. That proved the catalyst for a stretch which, no matter how you slice it, has been one of LA's strongest of the season.
- With Minnesota taking 18 points in their last 20 games and the top three teams in the Central pulling away, though, passing their division rivals is the easiest path for the playoffs for LA. A win tonight actually puts the Kings' point pace ahead of the second-place Sharks, and a Flames loss coupled with a Kings win would put LA on pace for a playoff spot.
- Still, though, it's easier to just focus on LA's performance rather than scoreboard-watching, so how about we focus on the recent bright spots? Dwight King's scored in three straight games. Tyler Toffoli was the NHL's Second Star this week. Jonathan Quick only gave up one goal last game. Even the penalty kill has been good.
- On the other side, Tampa Bay has finally faltered a bit, even allowing the Montreal Carey Prices to pass them in the Atlantic Division. Thankfully, they've had no trouble against the Pacific Division recently, with wins against Vancouver, Anaheim, and San Jose in the past month.
- Ben Bishop (who's been struggling) bounced back against the Sharks last night, but in a back-to-back sitaution, we'll get to see the Lightning's goalie of the future tonight. Andrei Vasilevskiy is a 20-year-old Russian, the team's first-round pick in 2012, who's had no trouble adapting to the NHL so far with a .932 SV%.
- Fun tidbit from the NHL.com preview: Steven Stamkos has scored in every current NHL arena except for the Staples Center and the United Center. (BEAT CHICAGO)
- Notable lineup changes: Jason Garrison, injured for the last contest, is in tonight; Brenden Morrow (remember him?) is scratched.
- Prediction: McBain goal!