Game Time: 7:30 PM Pacific, FS-W
Both the Kings and the Sabres have scored nine goals over the season so far. The Sabres have just had one extra game to do it in.
The Kings have twelve players who have points over three games, and five goal scorers.
Buffalo has seven players with points, and three with goals. The bulk of those have come from Evander Kane and Jason Pominville, acquired in the off-season from the Wild. (Pominville boasts a 57% shooting percentage, a number which is, uh. Quite clearly going to come back down to earth.) Jack Eichel, the latest recipient of an enormous contract, only has one goal, though at least he’s not injured to start the season.
It’s far too early in the season for statistics to be at all meaningful. But Buffalo, a team which keeps saying it’s turned the corner and is ready to compete, needs more contributions up and down their lineup than what they’re getting.
Kyle Okposo was hopeful to play tonight but is dealing with an illness, so will be held out. Matt Moulson looks to replace him on the second line.
This game will also be the homecoming of Jordan Nolan, who’s been a healthy scratch for two Sabres games already, but appears to be set in the lineup for his return to Los Angeles, and a surely appreciative crowd.
The Kings will see some roster changes tonight, partially brought on by the injury to Kyle Clifford, who’s week to week with an upper body injury. The changes are partially results-oriented, and almost seem designed to put the kibosh on a few differet post ideas I’d been thinking about, namely “What In The World Are We Trying to Accomplish With the Third Line”.
Mike Cammalleri, whose ice time has steadily dropped over three games (he played less than ten minutes against the Flames), will sit out tonight, and Jonny Brodzinski and Nic Dowd will flank Adrian Kempe instead. While initial speculation was that the team would reunite the previously successful Cammalleri/Kopitar/Brown line, the emergence of Alex Iafallo has put that on hold. Cammalleri’s been nearly unnoticeable playing alongside Kempe and the line of rotating right wingers. I like the idea of Brodzinski/Kempe/Dowd, particularly if you give them a lot of offensive zone starts. It’s certainly an idea to try, at least, even if it makes Cammalleri the odd man out for now.
Kurtis MacDermid, meanwhile, has seen his ice time go up over the past three games, but seemingly hasn’t contributed much, not even in the way of physicality. MacDermid has five hits throughout three games, the same number as Tanner Pearson. Dustin Brown leads the team with 11, and Christian Folin has ten. With Alec Martinez ready to return, and Oscar Fantenberg acquitting himself nicely (even if he hasn’t found the back of the net yet), MacDermid is the easy choice to sit for a game.
Keep an eye on the power play tonight. The Kings are one of four teams who haven’t broken through yet (the other three are the Islanders, Ducks, and Canadiens). The Sabres may not be the team to help remedy that; they’ve only allowed one power play goal and so far, are rarely penalized. They’ve also scored two shorthanded goals, both by Evander Kane, so the Kings power play units should probably to be more cautious than usual.
The Kings have defeated the Sabres 2-0 in the last four home matchups. Bets on making it five?
Projected Line Combinations
Los Angeles Kings
Iafallo - Kopitar - Brown
Pearson - Carter - Toffoli
Brodzinski - Kempe - Dowd
Andreoff - Shore - Lewis
Forbort - Doughty
Muzzin - Martinez
Fantenberg - Folin
Girgensons - Eichel - Pominville
Kane - O’Reilly - Moulson
Reinhard - Larsson - Griffith
Pouliot - Josefson - Nolan
Scandella - Ristolainen
Beaulieu - Tennyson
Gorges - McCabe
Opposing Preview: Die By The Blade