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Game Day Watch, 1/23: Los Angeles Kings @ New York Rangers

Throw your gloves in the air like you just don’t care.

HOW TO WATCH

Game Time: 4:00 PM Pacific
TV: Fox Sports West
Radio: KABC AM 790
Stream: Fox Sports Go (requires cable subscription)

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

if you’re a Kings fan: With the Kings’ insistence that no one from Ontario is coming to LA this week, some guys already on the roster are going to have to step up their game. Brayden McNabb and Devin Setoguchi are of particular interest; it’s hard to imagine McNabb sitting in favor of Tom Gilbert (whose early hesitation contributed to the Islanders’ first goal), while the abject failure of the Nolan-Shore-Clifford line (all of whom were on for three shot attempts or fewer in ten minutes of 5v5 ice time) opens the door for a Setoguchi return.

if you’re a Rangers fan: The wailing and gnashing of teeth re: Henrik Lundqvist has faded, at least for a couple days, after the goalie shut out Detroit in a 1-0 overtime win. It was a rare off-night for the offense, but Lundqvist’s improved form made up for any worries there. With 61 points in 47 games, this might be the best team to ever fill a wild card spot. At least, if you’re judging by record and not by underlying stats.

if you’re a hockey fan: We’re still in the window where this matchup is noteworthy for being a rematch, right? In the wake of that 2014 Final matchup, I recall hearing that the Rangers might’ve missed their best chance at a Cup while the Kings had the makings of a dynasty, but it’s New York that was just one win away from a return trip in 2015, while LA hasn’t won a playoff round since. Last year both teams lost to eventual finalists in the first round, 4-1, but New York is once again well ahead of the Kings. Good for them.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

for the Kings: Marian Gaborik . The former Ranger has been a bright spot for the Kings in this recent stretch, as he and Anze Kopitar have largely rediscovered their form. Gaborik ranks fourth in the NHL among forwards in scoring chance percentage at 5-on-5 play (minimum 20 games), with the Kings getting 64% of the overall chances when he’s on the ice. (Kopitar is 16th in the league.) He’s only behind two Wild players and...

for the Rangers: ... Mika Zibanejad. The Rangers’ possession numbers are poor, but they make up for it by getting a noticeably higher percentage of scoring chances than their opponents at 5v5. Zibanejad’s scoring chance percentage numbers are absurd; when he’s on the ice, his team gets twice as many scoring chances as his opponent. Only Mikael Granlund can say the same, but even Mika’s got him beat, with a 68.67% SCF (according to Corsica.)

LEAGUE/WORLDWIDE WATCH

  • Interesting read from our sister blog in St. Louis, who think coach Ken Hitchcock has been hung out to dry by the organization. [St. Louis Game Time]
  • We may need to add Tampa to the list of sellers at the deadline. Imagine if Brian Boyle came back after all these years? [Raw Charge]
  • Jack Campbell is set to make his 22nd straight start for the Reign, matching Peter Budaj’s longest streak from last season. He hasn’t been quite as good as Budaj last year, but thank goodness he’s been able to hold the fort in Ontario. [Reign Insider]

WATCH THIS

After this game, Fox Sports West will be showing a rebroadcast of Game Five of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, at 7:00 PM Pacific. NBC’s Doc Emrick and Ed Olczyk have the call. End your night with a win, no matter what happens!