HOW TO WATCH
Game Time: 7:00 PM
Radio: KABC AM 790
Stream: NBC Sports (requires cable subscription)
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
if you’re a Kings fan: You might expect teams to make sweeping changes during their bye week, but the Kings gave it an extra four days (and notably, an extra two losses). LA called up Mike Amadio and Paul LaDue, demoted Kurtis MacDermid and Oscar Fantenberg, and waived Jussi Jokinen. Along with the activation of Jake Muzzin, these are changes that should drastically shift the way the Kings look during the fourth line/third pair shifts. LA has had a lot of trouble surviving those minutes lately, and with Andy Andreoff and Torrey Mitchell the expected scratches, it’ll be a new look.
if you’re a Penguins fan: Pittsburgh became the latest team to attempt a dramatic late comeback against the Anaheim Ducks, but much like LA on Monday, they only got two of the three goals they needed to overcome their deficit. They play in a tougher division and have a worse point rate, but they’re also in eighth in their respective conference. The Penguins might see teams catch up to them during their bye week, much as the Kings can make some ground back as other teams go on bye.
if you’re a hockey fan: These two teams are similar for most of the reasons above, and they’ve both won two Cups in this decade, but the more interesting angle might be watching a team that has noticeably improved in the last month-plus take on a team that has noticeably declined. Both teams were at almost exactly 50% Corsi For after the first 20-25 games of the season, but while LA has declined slightly, the Pens have careened the other way.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
for the Kings: Jake Muzzin. The defenseman and his 22:38 of average ice time were sorely missed, but it appears he will return to the lineup tonight. The Kings’ top six of Doughty, Muzzin, Martinez, Forbort, Folin, and Gravel hasn’t skated together all year, but it’s conceivable that this could be the top six down the stretch if LA stands pat at the deadline. At the very least, thoughts that Muzzin (or Martinez) could be traded now feel even sillier than they felt a few months back. Muzzin is on track for career highs in assists and points, though another run at double-digit goals seems unlikely.
for the Penguins: Jake Guentzel. I mostly picked him because his name is also Jake, but he’s also had an interesting campaign. After a 13-goal explosion in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs put him on the map, he’s fallen off noticeably, which isn’t that odd considering he’s just 23. A goal against Anaheim broke a run of one goal in 19 games and, more importantly, meant that his goal total for the full season now finally exceeds his total in last year’s postseason. He’s also attempting an Adrian Kempe move to center, though that comparison is less apt with Kempe moving back to wing.
- The North Korea and South Korea women’s ice hockey teams are expected to play together after an agreement “in principle.” Reactions are mixed, to say the least; it’s a fascinating story. [The Ice Garden]
- Crowd-free games are always fun. [Canes Country]
- Yeah, hi, why isn’t Willie O’Ree in the Hockey Hall of Fame yet? [Stanley Cup of Chowder] [Change.org]
If you missed the Bob Miller ceremony, or if you just want more Bob#, check out the upcoming Kings Weekly feature on his special day:
#TBT to a really fun day... aka Bob Miller Celebration Day #ThankYouBob @LAKings #LAKingsWeekly pic.twitter.com/Bi5DmvCv3T— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) January 18, 2018