Preview: Los Angeles Kings (8-1-1) @ Boston Bruins (4-3-1)
Game Time: 4:00 PM Pacific, FS-W
Before we get into our game preview, let’s take a little look at the standings, shall we?
Ah, yes, just as we expected. Everything about this list is exactly what we thought it would be. No surprises there. None at all.
The Kings’ road trip is starting to wind down, with this stop in Boston and Monday’s game in St. Louis all that remain before the team heads back home. It’s been a crucial early test for the Kings, featuring a heavy line-up of teams that went to the playoffs, and it’s been encouraging to see the Kings come away with a whole mess of points.
They have the chance to continue their momentum with tonight’s game in Boston. The Bruins seem to have been hit by the injury bug early this year; seemingly every time they get someone like Patrice Bergeron or Tuukka Rask back in the lineup, they lose someone else. They’re already on the outside looking in, in terms of playoff spots, particularly with the surging Maple Leafs and the dominant Tampa Bay Lightning.
Goalie Tuukka Rask returns to play tonight after missing several games with a concussion. Back-up Anton Khudobin -- you may remember him from his career 0.950 save percentage against the Kings -- has held things together in Rask’s absence. Normally you’d think getting Rask back would be a boon to the Bruins’ chances, but Rask has just one win in four games. Some of that can be attributed to the team in front of him, but some of it may just be the fact that he’s not as good of a goalie as he once was.
With so many key personnel out for the Bruins, the Kings should look to take advantage of their inexperience, especially in the bottom six. Patrice Bergeron is as dangerous as always, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Bergeron line and the Kopitar line completely cancel each other out during the game. That makes depth scoring for the Kings even more important, if Kopitar and company are going to get shut down by the Bruins.
Adrian Kempe, we’re playing your song.
Barring any last minute surprises, there won’t be any changeups in the Kings lineup tonight. Nick Shore is still dealing with a minor injury, and with Kurtis MacDermid putting together two fairly good games, there’s no real need to replace him with Christian Folin right now. Mike Amadio will get into his second NHL game; he acquitted himself just fine in the first one. He played just over nine minutes, which was in line with what Andy Andreoff (eight minutes) and Nic Dowd (a little over seven minutes) played. It’d be nice to see him win more faceoffs, but for a rookie in his first game in the hockey hotbed of Montreal, there wasn’t much to complain about in his game. (Besides, one of the reasons Brooks Laich had so much ice time, aside from all the time spent on the penalty kill, was sending him over the boards to take faceoffs. Laich won 63%, a team high for players taking more than the occasional faceoff.)
Boston is another team out with something to prove, as they try to overcome their average record so far and leap back into contention. They have a lot of intriguing rookies, including Anders Bjork on the top line, and Charlie McAvoy on the first defensive pairing, who can’t be overlooked.
The puck drops at 7 Eastern/4 Pacific. Let’s go.
Projected Line Combinations
Los Angeles Kings
Iafallo - Kopitar - Brown
Pearson - Kempe - Toffoli
Cammalleri - Laich - Lewis
Andreoff - Amadio - Dowd
Forbort - Doughty
Muzzin - Martinez
MacDermid - Fantenberg
Marchand - Bergeron - Bjork
DeBrusk - Backes - Pastrnak
Schaller - Kuraly - Heinen
Agostino - Nash - Vatrano
Chara - McAvoy
Krug - Miller
Postma - Carlo
Opposing Preview: Stanley Cup of Chowder