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Preview: Road trip continues as Kings head south to face the Lightning

Can the Kings avoid getting electrocuted?

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Los Angeles Kings v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

How to Watch

Game Time: 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time

TV: Fox Sports West

Radio: iHeart Radio

The Opposition: Raw Charge

What to Watch

  • Can 20 good minutes be enough for a win? It was on Thursday against the Vegas Golden Knight, but the Kings got lucky and they should know it. The Kings largely outplayed the Carolina Hurricanes but consistency is not exactly this team’s strong suit.
  • The Kings have also had two days off between games. On the road, that’s pretty huge. Hopefully, they’re feeling well-rested and ready to go.
  • Also, the Dads road trip is starting!
  • Tampa has a lot of talent on paper but they’ve had a pretty up-and-down season so far. It is definitely not the same as last year when Andrei Vasilevskiy was pretty much the hottest goalie around.
  • This was supposed to be a podcast preview but technology has cursed and failed me. Again. So here to help us talk about the Lightning are two people very familiar with the team: Achariya and GeoFitz4 from Raw Charge.

Q: How hard does Jon Cooper line match?

[GeoFitz4]

Sometimes he does, but most of the time he just rolls with it. The top two lines are naturally going to face more of the top competition just because of deployments and usage more than the bottom two lines. The reality though is that he has a lot of confidence in three of his lines.

The fourth line of Carter Verhaeghe, Mitchell Stephens, and Alex Volkov not as much, but they’re all rookies. Even still, Stephens in particular is getting more confidence from the coaching staff because of his faceoff abilities and is getting more short handed shifts. But when it comes to the top three lines? He’ll play them against anyone for the most part. Cedric Paquette, who is about as prototypical of a fourth line grinding center that sometimes crosses the line into dirty, was matched up against Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane in the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals.

Two years ago, Brayden Point and his linemates were tasked with shutting down the Patrice Bergeron line in the playoffs, and they did just that. They were so good in fact that in game three when the series went to Boston, the Krejci line was used to match up against Point and they promptly got burned for two goals forcing the Bruins to put the Bergeron line back on Point.

Q: Cooper is the longest-tenured coach in the NHL. Even if last season’s results are not the same as this season, the team is still second in the division at present. How has he not lost the room?

[Acha]

When Tampa made it to the Stanley Cup Final, there were a few narratives about Jon Cooper.

(a) He has “won the final prize at every level of hockey he’s coached.”

(b) He’s a “player’s coach.”

(c) He’s a lawyer.

Cooper has yet to win the final prize in the NHL and may never. I can’t talk to whether or not he’s a player’s coach, because while some like him (like his teacher’s pet, Tyler Johnson), some have had to grow to understand him (like his winger who would prefer to play centre, Steven Stamkos). It hasn’t been easy, and only the fact that Julien BriseBois hired him way back in the day for the Norfolk Admirals probably saved him this past summer.

I attribute the fact that he’s still around to (c) He’s a lawyer.

[GeoFitz4]

I think being a younger coach, but also a coach that had a different path up the chain makes a big difference. He was only 45 when he took over as the head coach and is just 52 years old now. He came up through NAHL and USHL hockey before he got his break into professional hockey. And he was a head coach the whole way up.

While he’s had veteran coaches around him, like Rick Bowness his associate head coach up until a couple years ago, he’s got his own style. He’s young enough to relate to players, and while maybe more of a “players” coach than many in the league, he still knows how to be hard on players when he needs to. He’s also a strong believer in praise in public, criticize in private. He rarely ever is a coach that will blame a player or call out a player in the media. That’ll be dealt with in practice and in the meeting room, not in front of the world.

Q: Who is your “Trevor Lewis” [unsung hero]?

[GeoFitz4]

Anthony Cirelli. He’s a name that people should start to get to know around the league, and I think that is starting to happen to some extent. He’s a premier defensive center and his offensive skills are showing up even more this year. It certainly helps getting some playing time with Steven Stamkos, but he’s had Alex Killorn on his wing for the majority of his career.

Killorn is having a career season, but in the past has been a half point per game type middle six winger. Good, reliable, but not spectacular offensively. Cirelli also never really showed the kind of offense in juniors or the AHL that suggested he would be a bona fide top six center. Elite third line center? Most definitely. But he’s getting an opportunity this season to show more and playing occasionally on the second power play unit.

On top of being an ace on the penalty kill. He averaged 14:51 TOI last season and recorded 19 goals and 39 points in 82 games. His ice time has jumped up to 18:35 and he’s gotten 9 goals and 27 points in 44 games. That’s certainly top six caliber scoring. If he can keep pushing that offensive production up, combined with his defensive acumen, he’s a player that should be in the Selke conversation.

Looking at GAR from Evolving-Hockey.com, Cirelli is right up towards the top in the defensive stats. Among the 295 forwards with at least 500 minutes TOI at EV, Cirelli is 15th in EV Defense GAR per 60. For reference, since he is a perennial contender and winner of the Selke, Bergeron is 39th.

Q: Alan recently had an article out about Tampa goalie coach Frantz Jean. Have those issues been fixed?

[Acha]

So back in December, right after Christmas, Raw Charge updated our article from 2013 explaining how every goalie who has worked under goalie coach Frantz Jean has become appreciably worse.

The crux of our argument was this:

“Nearly every goalie who has played for Frantz Jean has performed worse for him than they have elsewhere. That difference doesn’t appear to be the result of any underlying data issue. That difference spans multiple head coaches, defensive systems, skater groups, and goalie styles.”

This is kind of damning, right? But the organization was quiet about our article, and it created little to no buzz.

Lately Vasilevskiy has been doing better, though. The team has won ten in a row, mostly under Vasy’s power. So perhaps all we needed to do was vaguely insult his coach? Aside from that, perhaps he got his groove back after collapsing in a sodden mess in the first round of playoffs last season. Goalies are inscrutable.

Q: Explain Louis Domingue’s “sh*t sandwich” quote.

[Acha]

This quotation comes to us via an Athletic article from Joe Smith, the TBL bureau writer. Domingue was Tampa’s backup last year, helping the team to its record-matching win streak by posting a 13 game individual win streak, unheard of from a backup. Instead of rewarding this work by keeping Domingue in Tampa, our newish GM Julien BriseBois decided to sign Curtis McElhinney and put Domingue on the trade block. He was first demoted to Syracuse until he was finally traded to the Devils.

Last night was his first time facing Tampa post-trade, and he had some emotions to take out on us. Tampa played a great game, forcing Domingue to make 26 of 27 saves to McElhinney’s 17 of 20. Good for Domingue — but, in the words of Alan yesterday, Tampa still made the correct decision to trade him.

Q: What’s your prediction for the game?

[Acha]

Tampa just lost to the Devils in a game where they controlled play but were stymied by a guy channeling his inner Martin Brodeur, so they are likely frustrated and looking to take it out on someone, especially at home. I know the Kings tend to stifle offence and play some 1-0 games, so perhaps it’ll remain low scoring. I predict a 3-1 victory for Tampa.

Lineups

Los Angeles Kings

Iafallo — Kopitar — Toffoli
Clifford — Carter — Brown
Kempe — Amadio — Wagner
Prokhorkin — Anderson-Dolan — Lewis

Martinez — Doughty
Forbort — Walker
Hutton — Roy

Quick

Tampa Bay Lightning