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Game Day Preview #31, Los Angeles Kings @ Boston Bruins

Remember when the Kings scored nine goals in Boston? That was super fun.

NHL: Boston Bruins at Los Angeles Kings Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Preview: Los Angeles Kings (16-12-2) @ Boston Bruins (16-13-3)

After two years of missing the playoffs, the Bruins are back in the hunt, clinging to the third seed in the Atlantic. Granted, the Atlantic is as much of a mess as usual; the Bruins’ 35 points mean they’re competitive there. (They’d also be competitive in the Pacific, but let’s not talk about that.) They look like a different team than they did last season, perhaps renewed a bit by the addition of several rookies to the team, and new vets like David Backes. (Don’t mention his contract, though.)

The Bruins have had a predicament familiar to Kings fans: Tuukka Rask has been standing on his head, but his team’s forgotten how to score. And then every so often is a game like Thursday’s against the Ducks, where the offense finds its next level, but they can’t keep pucks out of their own net.

Promising young forward David Pastrnak, perhaps one of the Bruins biggest scoring threats, will sit out this game after having undergone elbow surgery. He’s impressed everyone this season, even earning praise from Sidney Crosby recently, so Pastrnak’s loss is a big one for the team. He’s second on the team in points and first in goals with 19, already surpassing his points total from last season. No one else on the team has even broken ten yet; Brad Marchand is second with nine goals.

The Kings, meanwhile, engaged in the most unlikely of goaltender duels on Thursday, with Peter Budaj battling Matt Murray to a stand still. It wasn’t exactly the most defensively sound performance from the Kings, with the Penguins outshooting them 39-28, including a 20-shot second period from the home team. Budaj was the difference maker, and he may just have to be again today. The Bruins are third in shots per game, and even without Pastrnak, they’ve got more than their fair share of guys who like to take the puck to the net.

Projected Line Combinations

Los Angeles Kings

Pearson - Kopitar - Lewis
King - Carter - Toffoli
Gaborik - Dowd - Brown
Clifford - Shore - Nolan

Forbort - Doughty
Muzzin - Gilbert
Martinez - Greene

Budaj
(Zatkoff)

Boston Bruins

Marchand - Bergeron - Backes
Schaller - Krejci - A Surprise!
Spooner - Czarnik - Hayes
Moore - Nash - Acciari

Chara - Carlo
Krug - McQuaid
Morrow - K. Miller

Rask
(Khudobin)

Opposing Preview: Stanley Cup of Chowder