Well, no team stays undefeated forever, right? It had to happen, and ultimately, a close game against a skilled young team was probably a more exciting way to do it than a 2-1 shoot-out loss that will inevitably come against Arizona later this season. Eric’s recap has all the details but speaking just for myself, it was nice to see a game where, even when the Kings were down a few goals, I never felt like the game was a lost cause. Can’t say that happened very often last season.
So we go from the fast, chaotic style of the up-and-coming Leafs, to the team that was one goal away from reaching the Stanley Cup Finals: the Ottawa Senators. Just a few hundred miles to the east is a very vastly different team.
Yes, the Senators, despite having one of the most dynamic defensemen in the league, really excel at slowing the game down. It’s frustrating watch and it’s got to be frustrating to play against. What I said above? About feeling confident that the Kings could come back from a few goals down? That could go out the windows with the Senators, because if they get an early lead, they’re just going to do their best to keep you from getting in the offensive zone at all. And that makes for a dull, dull game.
Not dull? Whatever in the world it is that Guy Boucher is doing with his lines. He could play 11 F, 7 D tonight, depending on whether or not defenseman Mark Borowiecki is ready to go. Most coaches switch up their lines mid-game when something isn’t working. Their team’s falling behind, their team’s struggling against a certain opposing line, their team just looks lifeless. Boucher just throws lines against the wall and sees what sticks. Check out the line usage detailed in this chart:
TOR at OTT, 21 Oct— Hockey Viz (@HockeyViz) October 22, 2017
Lines, icetime, and zone usage pic.twitter.com/SzSa5TFol0
The only players who didn’t spend even strength time with others outside of their “regular” line were Bobby Ryan and Logan Brown. Everyone else shuffled around -- and this was a game that Ottawa convincingly won. In this game, where Ottawa got shut out, not only did they go 11 F, 7 D, but they were also Peak “Lines? We Don’t Need Lines”:
VAN at OTT, 17 Oct— Hockey Viz (@HockeyViz) October 18, 2017
Lines, icetime, and zone usage pic.twitter.com/NJqFGq5TCk
So take whatever you see below, or whatever lines roll out at the start of the game, with a grain of salt, because they’re probably going to be completely different ten minutes into the period.
Without a morning skate, it’s difficult to say what the Kings will do. They have Justin Auger and Kurtis MacDermid available to swap in. The trio of Andreoff/Laich/Dowd played about six minutes at even strength (Laich played slightly more as he was on the penalty kill), so theoretically Auger could substitute in for one of them. (Nic Dowd. It’s probably going to be Nic Dowd. #FreeNicDowd.) Fantenberg and Folin bounced back from a rough Columbus game and each played eleven-ish minutes, fairly respectable for a third pairing. Folin even appealed to the Grit and Heart crowd by fighting Matt Martin. It’s hard to say that MacDermid would bring anything more to the table than being tall.
Darcy Kuemper should start in net. Should. Definitely should. It’s a back to back and Jonathan Quick caught, and then un-caught, the eye of the concussion spotters. There’s no real reason to play him in this game. (Don’t be surprised if he leads the team out on the ice, though.)
Projected Line Combinations
Los Angeles Kings
Iafallo - Kopitar - Brown
Pearson - Shore - Toffoli
Cammalleri - Kempe - Lewis
Andreoff - Laich - Dowd
Forbort - Doughty
Muzzin - Martinez
Fantenberg - Folin
Burrows - Brassard - Stone
Thompson - Turris - Dzingel
Hoffman - Pageau - Pyatt
DiDomenico - Brown - McCormick
Oduya - Karlsson
Phaneuf - Ceci
Claesson - Wideman
Opposing Preview: Silver Seven