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Game Day Preview #49, Los Angeles Kings @ Colorado Avalanche

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I think Mikko Rantanen may have more points than all of the Kings combined.

Los Angeles Kings v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

HOW TO WATCH

Game Time: 12:00 PM Pacific
TV: Fox Sports West
Radio: iHeart Radio
The Opposition: Mile High Hockey

This season for the Colorado Avalanche is truly a tale of two teams. They’ve seen dominant stretches, including a six-game winning streak through November, and have been buoyed by one of the best lines in hockey, with Mikko Rantanen, Nate MacKinnon, and Gabe Landeskog combining for a truly unholy number of points.

But there are cracks in this foundation. Landeskog is third on the Avalanche with 52 points. Next on the list? Tyson Barrie, 34 points. That is a huge gap, and is one of the Avalanche’s main problems. The top line has been broken up at times in an attempt to spread out scoring, but if Rantanen/MacKinnon/Landeskog aren’t scoring, then it’s likely that no one else is, either.

The Avalanche have seen five-game and six-game losing streaks this season and have just returned from a road trip through Canada where they went 1-4-0, including a loss on Wednesday to the Ottawa Senators. Head coach Jared Bednar said his team wasn’t ready to work from puck drop, and it showed. Despite a scoreless first period, largely due to the performance of goaltender Semyon Varlamov, the Avalanche allowed three straight goals in the second period and were unable to come back. It was a tough trip for the Avalanche, who spent a majority of their time chasing a lead.

Despite recent struggles, the Avalanche remain in playoff position, and barring complete disaster, should remain there, based on the power of that first line alone. They’re going to need others to step up, though, and are going to look to this game, the start of a five-game homestand, to get back on track.

For the Kings, they’re looking to carry forward momentum from their win over the Stars. Jack Campbell’s terrific performance saved the Kings in a third period where the Stars pushed hard — 19 shots for Dallas as compared to three for the Kings. (In the first two periods combined, the Stars had only 11 shots.) Campbell and Jonathan Quick both have been at their best recently; Quick’s performance against the Wild is really the only reason the Kings got a point at all in that one.

Since the Kings’ four-game winning streak in December — their only string of more than two wins all season — they’ve been back on a win one, lose a few pattern. That was also the last winning streak of any sort that the Kings had. They’ve won four of their last 10, in often patchwork fashion, and still struggle to score. Goals, as always, are hard to come by for the Kings. Their five goals against the Penguins were the most they’ve scored since early December, when they also put up five goals on the Vegas Golden Knights.The Kings will need Jonathan Quick, the presumed starter, to be at his best to put a stop the the Avalanche’s hopes to use this game as a bounce-back win.

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