HOW TO WATCH
Game Time: 5:00 PM Pacific
TV: Fox Sports West
Radio: iHeart Radio
The Opposition: On the Forecheck
The Kings took three straight penalties last night against the Blackhawks. Weak calls or not, the fact is that this is generally not an advisable strategy. Against the Blackhawks, with their 28th-ranked power play and tendency to overpass and overthink, the Kings didn’t get burned.
And you’d think that Nashville would be a tougher foe…
Surprise! Their power play is ranked dead last in the NHL, converting on only 10.8% of their chances. It’s not much better when you separate out the Predators power play at home, too — that’s ranked 29th, converting at, again, a rate of 10.8%. (Bizarrely, the Predators’ power play is equally bad at home or on the road.)
But still. Nashville’s going to find a time to click on the man advantage, and the Kings shouldn’t give them the opportunity to even try.
Be More Opportunistic
The Kings’ goal last night against the Blackhawks came off of a Chicago defenseman falling in the neutral zone. Tyler Toffoli picked up the puck and ran with it, and, as the saying goes, good things happen when you go to the net.
The Blackhawks made their share of mistakes last night — turnovers, bad clears, failure to get a puck deep into the zone — and while Corey Crawford stood tall all game long, the Kings had their chances that they created off the mistakes.
Nashville isn’t going to be quite as sloppy, there’s a reason that they’re the top team in the west and second overall. But mistakes are still going to be there. Breaking through one of the most daunting defenses in the league is going to be no easy task, and it’s going to have to start with finding a way to jump on any miscues the Predators have.
Those same painful grinding noises my mind made when I thought about the Kings’ matchup with the Maple Leafs? They’re making the same noises right now.
The Predators are reeling a bit after an less than ideal road trip, one that saw them go 2-2-1. Yes, that’s a record the Kings would love to have right now. Yes, things are still good in Predators-land.
But still. They’ve lost three of five and PK Subban and Viktor Arvidsson are both out of the lineup with injuries; Ryan Hartman may potentially miss, too, after taking a hit to the head in his last game.
This game isn’t going to be easy. Even if it weren’t a back-to-back, it has the possibility to go a bit pear-shaped before even ten minutes are up. The Predators aren’t exactly the struggling Blackhawks; they’re not going to give the Kings the same kinds of opportunity to get in front of Pekka Rinne.
And on a back to back? With the Kings’ starting either Peter Budaj, who may or may not have the flu, or Cal Petersen, who has played a little over the length of one NHL game in his career?
This could be a long night.