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Game Day Preview #55, Los Angeles Kings @ Florida Panthers

FIRST LINE ANDY ANDREOFF

NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Florida Panthers Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Preview: Los Angeles Kings (27-23-4) @ Florida Panthers (23-19-10)

How to Watch and What to Watch

Somewhat desperate times call for somewhat desperate measures, and if morning skate’s any indication, those desperate measures include First Line Andy Andreoff.

Go ahead, think about that one for a minute. I’ll talk about the Panthers. We’ll come back to Andy in a few scrolls down the page.

The Panthers are well rested, having just come off of their bye week with three wins in a row. They’ve followed up their surprise run to the playoffs last season with a less effective campaign this season, marked by front office turmoil, coaching changes, and some holes in the lineup that weren’t filled by off-season signings. Of course, one of the biggest issues the Panthers have been having has been with injuries to key players, including Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau. Huberdeau returned to the lineup last week, finally cleared to play after suffering an achilles injury during the preseason; Barkov also returned after going out with an injury in late December. Both collected points in their return against Anaheim, and it’s not a stretch to say that the Panthers are a different team with both Barkov and Huberdeau on the ice.

Depth players have picked up some of the slack, including Vincent Trocheck, who currently leads the team in both points (34) and goals (18). While he’s a player who probably falls under your radar -- unless you happen to have friends who follow the Panthers closely -- Trocheck’s been having an outstanding season, including being selected as the Panthers’ representative for the All-Star Game. He’s certainly been doing his part to help keep Florida in the hunt for the playoffs.

Okay,

Has that been enough time for your brain to really think about First Line Andy Andreoff? I even threw in a video to give you an extra minute. Have you really rolled it around in your mind, let it marinate for a little bit?

You’re right, that’s not enough time, but we’ve got to move on.

Based off of morning skate today, it looks like Anze Kopitar’s got himself a new set of wingers in Tyler Toffoli and Andreoff. If the goal is to get Kopitar a linemate who will help with scoring, Toffoli makes sense. This move is fine! This move could work out. Despite the fact that Toffoli and Jeff Carter mesh so well on the ice, spreading the scoring out is a plausible tactic. Carter and Tanner Pearson still continued to produce in Toffoli’s absence, anyway, so it’s not like Toffoli was the only player keeping that line hot.

As for Andreoff?

Well. The argument in favor -- and it’s not much of an argument, I know -- is that we already know what the rest of the bottom six bring to the top line. All of the wingers have had a spin there, with lackluster results. Andreoff isn’t going to be any different -- he’s not exactly known for his scoring touch, after all. Honestly, you could put him on a line with Sidney Crosby or Connor McDavid or whatever “generational talent” you’d like, and he still would manage to miss the net or shoot directly into the goalie’s chest. But someone has to play there, and Andreoff at least can go to the net and create havoc. He doesn’t need to keep possession of the puck, he doesn’t need to receive fancy passes. Without another viable scoring winger to put there, they just need someone to get up the ice and screen the goalie. Offense would be nice from whatever warm body gets to play next to Kopitar, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

After two disastrous games and nine regulation periods without a goal, the Kings should be extra motivated tonight. They also plausibly could just show up and go through the motions just to get to their own bye week.

Predictions? Bets? Anger over First Line Andy Andreoff? There’s still some time until puck drop, let’s hear them.

Projected Line Combinations

Los Angeles Kings

Andreoff - Kopitar - Toffoli
Pearson - Carter - Brown
Clifford - Dowd - Gaborik
King - Shore - Lewis

Forbort - Doughty
Muzzin - Martinez
McNabb - LaDue

Budaj
(Zatkoff)

Florida Panthers

Huberdeau - Barkov - Jagr
Jokinen - Trocheck - Smith
Marchessault - Sgarbossa - Bjugstad
Thornton - MacKenzie - Sceviour

Yandle - Demers
Pysyk - Ekblad
Matheson - Petrovic

Reimer
(Luongo)

Opposing Preview: Litter Box Cats