Hi. It’s currently 11° where I live (with a “feels like” of -5°).I might have spent most of today looking at hotels in Los Angeles for a future visit and wondering why I continue to live somewhere that comes with regular occurrences of being so cold that your skin literally feels like burning.
So it’s nice for yours truly to dream of warmer climates, and fortunately the Kings have a nice long stretch at home to keep my attention firmly focused on the west coast, while I’m making every effort to not freeze to death. Tonight kicks off a seven-game homestand against a mix of opponents, starting with Detroit and culminating with San Jose (again) -- a nice long stretch for the Kings to enjoy the comfort of home.
Jeff Zatkoff was the first goalie off at morning skate and is likely to get the start tonight. He was excellent in his last outing against Detroit, allowing only one goal on 18 shots. Giving Peter Budaj a rest before facing more dangerous teams like Minnesota (words I’d never thought I’d type) and St. Louis make sense in this case.
The story on the skaters is the same as it’s ever been. Jeff Carter is still playing like a man possessed, and Tanner Pearson’s been the man to benefit.
Meanwhile, Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik can’t seem to buy a goal. The Gaborik/Kopitar/Brown line’s staying together for now, in what’s either a display of patience or a quiet admission that there just aren’t many other options. If you missed our piece on Kopitar, by the way, you should go back and read it -- what’s ailing him might be nothing more than bad luck and bad timing.
After those two convincing wins against San Jose, the Kings are looking more respectable, more put together. There’s much less of fans (okay: me) alternating between shouting obscenities and hiding under a pillow.The Kings controlled possession, shots, goals, whatever fancystat you want to throw out there (okay maybe don’t quote me on that) for two very convincing wins. Keeping the Sharks to one point out of four is an accomplishment given how well they’ve been playing, and a win tonight would draw the Kings into a tie in the standings with the idle Calgary Flames, and within one point of Edmonton (if Edmonton loses to the Bruins).
A win tonight shouldn’t be that difficult of a task, technically speaking. The Red Wings are out of a playoff spot right now (eight points behind the Flyers) and have only won three of their last ten. They were shut out last night in Anaheim, and although they battled back to tie the Centennial Classic in literally the last second, they still lost to Auston Matthews in overtime. These aren’t the dominant Red Wings from days of old; this is a team with a handful of young players struggling to stay afloat.
For as much as scoring’s been an issue for the Kings, it’s been a problem for the Red Wings, too. Only two players on the Wings have cracked 20 points so far this season: captain Henrik Zetterberg (28) and Thomas Vanek (21), continuing in his resurgence post-Wild. Only Dylan Larkin has more than ten goals (currently sitting at 11).
With Petr Mrazek having played last night in Anaheim, rookie goalie Jared Coreau will get the start. He’s spent the last three seasons splitting time between the AHL and ECHL and has a fairly strong record this year (11-6-0 and a 0.924 Sv%). He’s 2-1-1 since his NHL debut, notching wins over the Panthers and Senators. If there’s anyone to keep an eye on, it just might be Coreau -- who knows, the Kings might come up against a classic case of “rookie goalie with something to prove”.
Projected Line Combinations
Los Angeles Kings
Gaborik - Kopitar - Brown
Pearson - Carter - Setoguchi
Clifford - Dowd - Lewis
King - Shore - Nolan
Forbort - Doughty
Muzzin - Martinez
McNabb - Gravel
Detroit Red Wings
Tatar - Zetterberg - Mantha
Nyquist - Nielsen - Vanek
Sheahan - Larkin - Glendening
Ott - Athanasiou - Miller
DeKeyser - Jensen
Ericsson - Marchenko
Ouellet - Sproul
Opposing Preview: Winging It In Motown