HOW TO WATCH
Game Time: 7:30 PM Pacific
TV: Fox Sports West
Radio: iHeart Radio
The Opposition: Winging it in Motown
The Kings’ home opener was bad — two goals against in the first period, another slow start, an ineffective power play. And then it was good — an Anze Kopitar tap-in goal from a blocked shot, a goal for Tyler Toffoli off of a sharp angle to tie the game. And then it was bad again — a listless overtime period, with both Kings lines getting stuck on the ice for extended shifts.
The team walked away with one point and salvaged what could have easily been another home opener debacle, but as always, the preferred outcome is always going to be two points and sad Sharks fans.
The Detroit Red Wings, holders of an identical record to the Kings, are in town tonight, and for a team projected to be near the bottom of the standings, that could be a good thing for the Kings.
But. There’s always a but.
Via Kings spokesman, Quick is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.— Jon Rosen (@lakingsinsider) October 7, 2018
Did we just have to delete half of our preview to talk about this instead? We’re not telling.
This feels like it’s going to be a long season.
WHO AND WHAT TO WATCH FOR
- While Jack Campbell had some preseason appearances to forget about, he redeemed himself in his appearance against the Vegas Golden Knights, who played what is essentially their NHL roster, against a younger, less experienced Kings B-squad. The reluctance to trust Campbell in net is understandable, given how long it’s taken him to build his game up to a level to where he can truly be competitive at the professional level. But when he’s confident and on his game, he can give this team a chance. The Kings need him to keep this one under control, especially if they continue ceding early chances to their opponents.
- Key for the Kings? Keep the puck away from Andreas Athanasiou. Or make sure Austin Wagner’s out on the ice at the same time. Athanasiou is ridiculously fast, and if he gets past the defense, all bets are off, because he’s going to the net. The Kings will probably do well to lock down the Red Wings’ first line, featuring the equally speedy Dylan Larkin. He’s only got one point against the Kings in six games, so the Kings have honed in on him and his linemates as the ones to shut down. (Athanasiou has one goal and two assists in four games against the Kings.)
- Jaret Anderson-Dolan looks poised to make his NHL debut tonight, and while initial reports looked like he was going to be in for Austin Wagner, and just as I was in the midst of typing up a screed on why that wasn’t a smart decision, more information came out that he’ll be drawing in over Kyle Clifford. Several hundred word-long complaint hereby cancelled. Consider yourselves lucky a) that you don’t have to read that and b) that you get to see JAD’s NHL debut.
- Do we talk about the power play? Do we need to say it? It was terrible on Friday night, awful in a way that seems almost physically impossible. How do you mess up your rotations so significantly so as to have Ilya Kovalchuk screening the net instead of poised to take shots? How did they manage to spend so much time chasing after the puck? The Sharks had one of the best penalty kills in the league last year, so some of the special teams despair can be blamed on their skill. If the Kings can’t cash in tonight, well — it’s not time to panic, but it’s time to get a little more concerned.
- Anze Kopitar and Alex Iafallo looked good. Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli looked good. Austin Wagner is heckin fast. All things we knew already, but it was great to see them all start to put it together in a meaningful game. Hopefully Wagner will figure out how to get his shot past NHL goalies, but for now, he’s just real fun to watch.
- Keep an eye on Tyler Bertuzzi. He’s remarkably pest-y on the ice. If there’s a scrum to be had, he’s probably going to be in the middle of it.