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Game Day Preview #68, St. Louis Blues @ Los Angeles Kings

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Pick up your official Paper Bag In Case Of Hyperventilation here

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Los Angeles Kings Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Preview: St. Louis Blues (35-27-5) @ Los Angeles Kings (33-28-6)

How to Watch and What to Watch

Is it too early to start drinking in preparation for this game? Or breathing heavily into a paper bag? Or maybe hiding under the covers? If I smother myself with my incredibly fat cats, I won’t have to watch this game.

Tonight’s tilt against the Blues is as must-winny of a must-win game the Kings have had all season. With Calgary’s late-season surge to third in the Pacific, the Blues really are who the Kings are chasing now. And for a team that didn’t do anything at the deadline to improve, they’ve certainly been on a roll as of late, winning four in a row. The hot streak comes on the heels of a five game losing streak, though.

The Blues, much like the Kings, are a team struggling to figure out who they are. They finally got past Chicago in the playoffs, only to bounce out against the Sharks in the Western Conference Final. This year was always going to be one of transition for the Blues. Everyone knew Ken Hitchcock was on his way out (although he got the boot earlier than anticipated), with Mike Yeo brought in as the heir apparent, and captain David Backes had left in free agency. Their record reflects that year of change for them, so perhaps the fact that they’re still clinging to a wild card spot, despite inconsistencies, a coaching change, and new team leadership, should tell you a lot more about the Blues than you’d think.

Incredibly large defenseman Colton Parayko is back on the blue line for the Blues after missing time with an injury. Even discounting his size (6’6”, also known as Dean Lombardi’s Ideal Hockey Player), he’s been rounding into a formidable defenseman in his sophomore season and has shown that he can take on heavy minutes. Removing Kevin Shattenkirk from the Blues’ equation may have taken away some scoring from the blue line, but it’s not turned out to be entirely too detrimental to their success.

The Kings’ win against the Capitals was encouraging. Statistics about the Caps’ poor play on their western road trip are meaningful but not everything, so a fairly convincing win was important for the team -- both in the points column and for their confidence in beating a solid team.

With Anze Kopitar heating up (five points in his last five games) and Jarome Iginla finding the back of the net, eyes are starting to turn to Tyler Toffoli, who hasn’t been nearly as productive since returning from injury. He has just five points in his last ten games and has seen his ice time, particularly his time on the power play, cut. If there’s any time for the winger to heat up, it’s now -- Toffoli starting to find the back of the net would go a long way to help the Kings start racking up some much-needed points.

Enjoy the game. Drink responsibly. Don’t throw things at your television unless you’re sure you can replace it without incurring too much expense. If you start crying, just turn up your music so no one hears you. Everything will be fine.

Projected Line Combinations

Los Angeles Kings

Iginla - Kopitar - Gaborik
Pearson - Carter - Toffoli
Lewis - Kempe - Brown
Andreoff - Dowd - Clifford

Forbort - Doughty
Muzzin - LaDue
McNabb - Martinez

Quick
(Bishop)

St. Louis Blues

Schwartz - Stastny - Tarasenko
Steen - Berglund - Perron
Jaskin - Barbashev - Paajarvi
Upshall - Brodziak - Reaves

Bouwmeester - Pietrangelo
Edmundson - Parayko
Gunnarson - Bortuzzo

Allen
(Hutton)

Opposing Preview: St. Louis Game Time