For a good time, go take a look at what happened last time the Kings and the Maple Leafs met this season. It’s a fun one. I’ll wait.
Are you back?
Wasn’t that a fun memory? There were goals. Lots of goals. (Including this one, a joint effort from Trevor Lewis and Dwight King (we miss you).
So many goals, in fact, that the Kings haven’t scored that many since -- seven is a season high for the team, and an effort that they should look to replicate tonight.
Of course, the Leafs are a little different now as compared to when the two teams met in November. They’re still a young, unpredictable team, full of the growing pains one would expect with a roster made up of a significant number of rookies. But they’re also in a playoff spot -- for now -- and have certainly shown flashes of brilliance, especially from their new core of young players like Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander.
Matthews of course gets all the attention as a first round draft pick -- and for good reason. He scored his thirty-first goal of his phenomenal season on Tuesday against the Sharks and has seven points in his past five games. He’s more than proven himself ready to take on tough competition and certainly plays much smarter than his years. Matthews and Marner lead their team in points (55 and 48, respectively).
The Leafs, as constructed, are a fine example of the way teams in the Eastern Conference have been building: smaller, faster, sneakier. The Kings are going to want to slow the Leafs’ speedy rookies down to keep them from being able to play their game. There are a lot of dangerous skaters up and down the Leafs’ lineup -- nowhere is safe.
The Kings welcome Jarome Iginla tonight, who will skate to Anze Kopitar’s left. He doesn’t bring speed to the lineup, but he brings a tremendous hockey IQ and, most assuredly, the passion of one last chase for the Stanley Cup. Opinions are mixed as to the worth of the Iginla acquisition -- your comments have certainly shown the divide -- and his chance to prove himself to wary Kings fans starts tonight.
Iginla’s not the only one who has something to prove tonight. With the Kings looking up at the playoff standings, they have a chance to make up some ground over the next few games. This evening’s game starts out a lengthy homestand for the Kings. The level of competition over the next few weeks is mixed -- Vancouver one week, the Capitals the next -- but it’s starting to be “now or never” time for collecting some dearly needed points.
Tonight is a youth movement, coming head to head with age and wisdom and, well, grit. Let age prevail.
Projected Line Combinations
Los Angeles Kings
Iginla - Kopitar - Gaborik
Pearson - Carter - Toffoli
Lewis - Shore - Brown
Kempe - Dowd - Clifford
Forbort - Doughty
Muzzin - LaDue
McNabb - Martinez
Toronto Maple Leafs
Hyman - Matthews - Nylander
Komarov - Kadri - Brown
van Riemsdyk - Bozak - Marner
Martin - Boyle - Soshnikov
Rielly - Marchenko
Gardiner - Zaitsev
Hunwick - Polak
Opposing Preview: Pension Plan Puppets