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Game Day Preview #49, Los Angeles Kings @ Carolina Hurricanes

One more game and then home.

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Los Angeles Kings Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Preview: Los Angeles Kings (23-21-4) @ Carolina Hurricanes (21-19-7)

One last early-for-the-Pacific game. One last stop on this leg of the road trip. It’s been a brutal stretch for the Kings, who, when they have played well, still haven’t always been rewarded with goals, or wins.

A strong effort against the Devils helped to right the ship before too much panic could set in. For the Kings, there have been some minor changes to the lines, with Dustin Brown being rewarded for his recent play with another spin on the top line with Kopitar and Gaborik. Kyle Clifford jumps up to Jeff Carter’s right, and Dwight King returns to the depth role that he’s best at.

Nick Shore had a strong game against the Devils, even getting an assist on Alec Martinez’s goal. He’s not usually a player that you notice too much unless he makes a mistake, which is oftentimes what you want out of your bottom six/role players. So any game where he’s memorable -- in a good way -- is a positive, and contributing to scoring chances is even better.

The Kings need to remember what they did against the Devils and do it again tonight, as the Hurricanes, for all their troubles, continue to be doing many of the right things from an analytics perspective and have a continually intriguing blue line.

The Hurricanes have a whole bevy of players who fly under the radar. For example, Derek Ryan. The last time these teams met, the technically-rookie center scored two goals against the Kings in a 3-1 win for the Hurricanes. Ryan took the very long, non-traditional path to the NHL, playing four years of Canadian college hockey before going to Europe, playing four seasons in Hungary, Austria, and Sweden before catching the eye of the Hurricanes. The 30-year old has 18 points in his first full year in the league and clearly knows how to make some noise against the Kings.

With the Hurricanes having the best penalty kill in the league, the Kings need to score at even strength to get out of this game with two points. Cam Ward’s numbers have come down to earth recently after a hot start, so this should theoretically be an easier task than it was a few months ago. Ward’s been lit up in his past few games, allowing six against the Capitals and seven against the Blue Jackets. (Those teams, incidentally, are numbers three and four in goals scored in the league. The Kings, unsurprisingly, are 23rd.) In his last five, he’s allowed 23 goals total, so testing Ward early and often is key here.

The Hurricanes didn’t have a full morning skate, just an optional with their scratches and recovering players, so the lines below are based off of past lines, some quality guesswork, and plugging in the names of non-scratched roster players. Fun times!

Projected Line Combinations

Los Angeles Kings

Gaborik - Kopitar - Brown
Pearson - Carter - Clifford
Andreoff - Lewis - Setoguchi
King - Shore - Nolan

Muzzin - Doughty
Forbort - Martinez
McNabb - Gravel

Budaj
(Zatkoff)

Carolina Hurricanes

Skinner - Rask - McClement
Aho - Staal - Lindholm
McGinn - Ryan - Stempniak
Nordstrom - Teravainen - Stalberg

Slavin - Pesce
Hainsey - Faulk
Hanifin - Dahlbeck

Ward
(Leighton)

Opposing Preview: Canes Country