Preview: Los Angeles Kings (20-10-3) @ New York Islanders (17-12-3)
Game Time: 4:00 PM, FS-W
Okay, so last night wasn’t quite what we wanted, in terms of end results. A defensive miscue, plus the Kings’ inability to get past the Rangers’ defense, ended up costing the Kings the game and, as it turns out, two very valuable points, as the Vegas Golden Knights are just one point back, with two games in hand.
Well, there’s another chance to right the ship tonight, against the Islanders, who -- well -- the headline for today’s post on Lighthouse Hockey is “Please, just get a win for god’s sake”, so that should tell you just about how their fanbase is feeling right now.
It’s not all doom and gloom for the Islanders, who still hold down a wild card slot, but their recent slump (six losses in their last ten) features some very lopsided losses (5-2 against Dallas, 6-2 against Tampa Bay) and more than a fair share of wild games (6-4 loss to Columbus, where they almost came back from a 3-0 deficit; a 6-5 loss to Ottawa which ended the Senators’ seven-game losing streak). The Islanders are looking for any momentum they can get to try to better solidify a playoff spot, and attempting to take advantage of a tired Kings team sure seems like something they’d be interested in.
For the Islanders to do that, they’re going to need more production from guys not named John Tavares (six points in five games). Rookie phenom Mat Barzal has cooled off, with just two points in his last five games. Defenseman Nick Leddy is fifth on the team in scoring but has only one assist in his last five games. Andrew Ladd is off to another slow start with the Islanders, too, with two points in five.
Speaking of guys who haven’t scored in a while: when will Alec Martinez’s goals come back from the war? As our resident defenseman-who-looks-like-a-forward-half-of-the-time, Martinez only has two goals on the season. In general, the defense seems to be chipping in less offensively this season in terms of pure goals. Defensemen like Martinez and Derek Forbort (six assists, no goals) finding the back of the net could go a long way to putting the Kings back into the win column.
The Kings’ effort against the Rangers last night wasn’t bad -- they played a much stronger game than they did in New Jersey -- and if they keep playing like that, they’ll get their next win sooner rather than later.
Maybe, even, tonight.
Projected Line Combinations
Los Angeles Kings
Iafallo - Kopitar - Brown
Pearson - Kempe - Toffoli
Gaborik - Mitchell - Jokinen
Clifford - Shore - Lewis
Muzzin - Doughty
MacDermid - Martinez
Forbort - Folin
New York Islanders
Lee - Tavares - Bailey
Ladd - Barzal - Eberle
Nelson - Cizikas - Clutterbuck
Chimera - Beauvillier - Bernier
Leddy - Boychuk
De Haan - Mayfield
Pelech - Pulock
Opposing Preview: Lighthouse Hockey