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Game Day Watch, 3/9: Nashville Predators @ Los Angeles Kings

That was your last break of the season, hope you’re ready for a month of endless stress!

NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

HOW TO WATCH

Game Time: 7:30 PM Pacific
TV: Fox Sports West
Radio: KABC AM 790
Stream: Fox Sports Go (requires cable subscription)

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

if you’re a Kings fan: I can’t believe we’re already at “every game feels like a must-win” territory, but that’s what we’ve got. Tonight is a chance for LA to get within four points of Nashville — and tied in ROW — with a game in hand, offering another route to a playoff berth. Jonathan Quick is starting and Anze Kopitar and the power play are both scoring, and after four days off, today could help stave off the gloomy feelings that have enveloped the fanbase.

if you’re a Predators fan: Nashville is safe... right? The Predators lost in Anaheim on Thursday, but that game didn’t matter compared to tonight. All the Preds really have to do is stay ahead of LA. But there are warning signs; Pekka Rinne’s stats over the past month are ugly even if you take the last couple games into account, the Preds are dressing forwards who contribute little, and the defense has yielded more than 30 shots in four of the last five games.

if you’re a hockey fan: Good news! If you want to exclusively watch playoff bubble matchups, you have a tailor-made doubleheader. Philadelphia-Toronto is technically the most desperate matchup, as both teams are out of playoff position; a loss by either team coupled with an Islanders win makes the 8th spot in the East a lot more difficult to reach. But Nashville and LA have both struggled mightily as of late, so there will be no shortage of drama for the nightcap.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

for the Kings: Jeff Carter. In this space on Saturday, I predicted that Nic Dowd would see a larger role in the absence of Nick Shore. Instead, Darryl Sutter went top-heavy, handing Carter his third-highest TOI of the season. His highest TOI? The prior game, against Toronto. Sutter has clearly decided that he needs to bring out his top scorer more frequently, and though Carter didn’t find the net in either game, he was quite dangerous on Saturday. More Carter is never a bad idea.

for the Canucks: Filip Forsberg. Have I ensured that Forsberg will score by including him in the Players to Watch section? Almost certainly. Would he score tonight even if I didn’t throw him in? Again, almost certainly. Since being on the ice for every Minnesota even-strength goal in a 5-2 loss on February 18, Forsberg has caught fire, with 11 goals and 16 points in nine games.

LEAGUE WATCH

  • Remember when Tom Sestito picked up 27 minutes of penalties after one second of ice time in a Canucks-Kings matchup a few years back? He was at it again. (Also, Penguins fans don’t see anything wrong with what Sestito did, which is sadly not a surprise.) [SB Nation]
  • Jack Eichel has flown under the radar in Buffalo, but he’s been excellent. He’s also 20. [Die By the Blade]
  • Cap news! It looks like we’re going to see the cap rise by another $2-3 million, which is excellent news for the Kings. And Tyler Toffoli. And Tanner Pearson. [Second City Hockey]

WATCH THIS

Defenseman Kale Clague signed an entry-level contract with the Kings on March 6. His junior team was thrilled.