Game Time: 7:30 PM, FS-W
Behold, a complete list of NHL teams which haven’t hit the 10-win mark yet:
Yes, despite returning a largely similar roster to last season -- you know, the season the Senators were a goal away from playing for the Stanley Cup -- the Senators are hanging out in the league basement. Only the fact that they are in a relatively weak division is keeping them even remotely competitive -- they’re five points back of third-place Montreal, a gap that isn’t entirely unsurmountable. (The teams ahead of them are Boston and Detroit, so really the entire Atlantic is pretty precarious at the moment.)
The Sens only have one win in their last ten games, and that came at the beginning of the month in a wild 6-5 win over the Islanders. They’ve been shut out in their last two games, including a 3-0 loss last night to an Anaheim Ducks team still missing nearly all of its top forwards. In that 10-game span, they’ve scored just 15 goals, the lowest in the league in that time span. Using the same look-back at the past 10 games, the power play is connecting only 8.6% of the time and the penalty kill is doing them no favors, with just a 75% success rate. No one has more than six points (Mark Stone) or three goals (Ryan Dzingel and Mike Hoffman) in that time. (In comparison, Anze Kopitar leads the Kings with 11 points and six goals in 10 games.)
There is one bright spot for the Senators right now, and it’s rookie defenseman Thomas Chabot. After finishing a distinguished juniors career, which included an impressive stint for Team Canada for World Juniors -- his break-out performance rightfully overshadowed an excellent tournament from Kings’ prospect Kale Clague -- Chabot played a handful of games in the AHL before getting called up. Chabot’s played in five of the last 10 and has collected a goal and three assists. He had an impressive three point night in that win against the Islanders and while he’s still getting his feet wet in the NHL, he’s definitely going to be a player to keep an eye on tonight.
With the Kings on a six-game winning streak -- currently the longest active in the NHL -- they’re not changing things up on the back end. Nic Dowd and Oscar Fantenberg are still your healthy scratches. The lines and defensive pairings at practice remained the same as they have been, although John Stevens has proven himself quite nimble at making line changes in-game and getting results from it. The tweaks that he’s made -- against the Wild, he reunited the Gaborik/Kopitar/Brown line for a vintage 2012 Kings look -- are all tweaks that have made sense. I’m not one who’s great at making predictions, but I somehow doubt that we’re going to ever see First Line Andy Andreoff under Stevens.
(Please don’t come back and yell at me if he does this at some point in the future.)
The biggest change for the Kings tonight is who’s going to be manning the net.
For what it's worth, Kuemper was off first. Quick still taking shots with the stragglers. pic.twitter.com/4W7mArtxjh— sarah. (@goorgoahead) December 7, 2017
Jon Quick is not okay with the events that are transpiring pic.twitter.com/SHM1x0ew3q— sarah. (@goorgoahead) December 7, 2017
Darcy Kuemper was off first tonight -- remember, he got the win the last time the Kings and Senators met -- while Jonathan Quick stayed on for at least an extra half hour, taking shots from the healthy and still-injured scratches. The last drill was a fairly intense one, with the scratches breaking up into pairs to take shots on Quick from up close. (The first group to 10 goals won; Quick, as disgruntled to get scored on in practice as he is in a game, seemed a little incredulous that those were the rules. The final score was something like 10-8, with Kyle Clifford and Nic Dowd winning over Andy Andreoff and Oscar Fantenberg. Quick was happy about exactly zero of those goals.)
The Kings look to prey on a reeling Senators team tonight and further solidify their lead in the Pacific. A win tonight will put them six points ahead of the Vegas Golden Knights.
Projected Line Combinations
Los Angeles Kings
Iafallo - Kopitar - Brown
Pearson - Shore - Toffoli
Gaborik - Kempe - Lewis
Jokinen - Mitchell - Brodzinski
Muzzin - Doughty
MacDermid - Martinez
Forbort - Folin
Ryan - Brassard - Stone
Smith - Duchene - Dzingel
Hoffman - Pageau - Dumont
Pyatt - Thompson - Burrows
Harpur - Karlsson
Phaneuf - Chabot
Oduya - Claesson
Opposing Preview: Silver Seven