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: LA returns from a two-week road trip on a high note, having won their final three games to finish with a winning record. The last win over Winnipeg — on night 2 of a back-to-back, no less — was the big one. The Kings didn’t stand pat, though, trading their backup goalie for Tobias Rieder, a 25-year-old German with... how do you say wheels in German? Räder. (That’s pretty close to being his actual name, huh?) Rieder brings speed to a fanbase that has been begging for it, but it remains to see whether he can bring goals to a fanbase that also begs for those.
if you’re a Stars fan: Dallas tried like hell to win the first game of their Southern California back-to-back, and it might be to their detriment tonight. It hurts more because all 41 of their shots were turned aside by Ryan Miller, while two of the Stars’ 17 shots beat Ben Bishop. It also hurts because it’s a second straight loss, and one in which they might have emptied their collective tanks. As LA has seen, a three-game losing streak can take you from comfortably in the top eight to the outside looking in, and that’s probably what’ll happen if Dallas goes down tonight.
if you’re a hockey fan: As always with these late-season Western games, I shouldn’t need to give you a reason to watch two wild card contenders going at it, especially when there won’t be any other NHL action on TV by the halfway point of this game. If you’re looking for additional intrigue, just root for Phaneuf, Thompson, and Rieder to end up on the ice in during a penalty kill. None of us at Staples will have seen any of them in a Kings uniform before, and we will absolutely be a bit confused.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
for the Kings: Tyler Toffoli. His 2018 struggles (6 points in 21 games) have him on almost an identical point pace from last year’s disappointing campaign. He’s skating with Kyle Clifford and Nate Thompson, which is clearly a demotion. Dude needs Jeff Carter back.
for the Stars: Tyler Seguin. As long as we’re talking about slumping Tylers, he’s pointless in four games. In twelve Stars losses since the New Year, he has fourteen points. In eight Stars losses since the New Year, he has two points. Shut him down, and (probably) win.
- Scott Wedgewood will wear #31. Rieder is going to be wearing #10, making him the fourth King since Mike Richards’ departure, the seventh King since 2010, and the 30th King ever to wear the number. Only eleven lasted more than one season in LA with the number, and only Richards and Vic Venasky lasted more than three seasons. (in order, that’s: Howie Hughes, Jim Stanfield, Vic Venasky, Steve Carlson, Rick Martin, Scott Gruhl, Dave Morrison, Bernie Nicholls, Brock Tredway, Viktor Nechayev, Terry Ruskowski, Bob LaForest, Bill O’Dwyer, Sean McKenna, Mike Allison, Dennis Smith, Warren Rychel, Jeff Shevalier, Neal Broten, Don MacLean, Donald Audette, Mathieu Schneider, Nathan Dempsey, Alyn McCauley, Brayden Schenn, Marco Sturm, Mike Richards, Christian Ehrhoff, Kris Versteeg, and Devin Setoguchi.)
- It appears Jack Campbell, not Wedgewood, will be Jonathan Quick’s backup down the stretch. If John Stevens decides to play Campbell in LA’s next back-to-back, then his first start should come against a team no one wants to face...
- The women’s hockey gold medal game was played in Pyeongchang yesterday, and it was another instant classic. Fortunately, the outcome was different. [The Ice Garden]
Because I haven’t stopped watching this. (Full shootout is here.)