How to Watch
Game Time: 7:00 p.m. Pacific Time
TV: NBCSN (National)
Radio: iHeart Radio / LA Kings Audio Network
The Opposition: Defending Big D
What to Watch
- The Dallas Stars are really good. Like, ridiculously good. They have a history of beating the Los Angeles Kings, especially noted Kings Killer Jamie Benn whose single-opponent point collection happens to be LA.
- If you throw out their first 10 games of the season, their point pace is actually enough to rival that of the league-leading Washington Capitals. So, things are pretty good in Texas.
- Kale Clague and Martin Frk were both re-assigned to the Ontario Reign as the Kings got back Dustin Brown, Trevor Lewis, Alec Martinez and Derek Forbort.
- Forbort should draw into the lineup
- If you’ve ever wondered about the Dallas Stars and what the view from the other side is like, we sat down with Taylor Baird, Managing Editor from Defending Big D, to get a quick sneak peek from the inside. Spoiler alert: Stars fans are pretty happy with how good this team is.
- Dallas isn’t known as a strong possession team, but they’re still finding ways to win. Can you attribute this to their offense, defense, or somehow both? A little of column A, a little of column B, and a heaping dose of goaltending. In all seriousness, Dallas does a very good job of limiting the quality of the chances against. Combine that with elite goaltending and the offense will take care of itself most nights, leading to wins more often than not. It all starts with that defensive structure.
- Good teams find ways to win. Aside from the obvious on-ice talent, what makes Dallas “good”? Fun fact: Dallas has the third best save percentage in the league on high danger scoring chances (as per Natural Stat Trick). When chances are generated against them in that area (a less common occurrence for the Stars than most teams), they’re getting the goaltending to cover for those defensive gaffes. That makes for a strong structure Dallas can rely on when their offensive game is struggling.
- Is the team playing any differently under Bowness than they did under Montgomery? Not really. Bowness and Montgomery worked closely on game planning all of last year and this season leading up to Montgomery’s dismissal December 10th. It’s about as seamless of a transition as an in-season coaching change can get, honestly.
- What makes Miro Heiskanen so good and how come he doesn’t get enough love? Heiskanen plays the game in such subtle, cerebral ways that it’s not flashy. It’s efficient, not unlike how Nicklas Lidstrom used to play the game. He contributes defensively by having sound body and stick positioning and shutting down lanes that he has energy reserved to still absolutely burn you on turnovers, leading to offensive zone time for his team. He can score goals and setup forwards for scoring with the best of them, but because he plays in Dallas and plays on the second pairing behind John Klingberg, he’s being asked to take on heavier minutes and isn’t given as much offensive zone time to take advantage (unlike the John Carlsons and the Cale Makars of the world). The blueline position is one that I think that fans and media alike have a harder time evaluating, so unless you’re watching it specifically, the glitz and glam of the scorers is obviously going to draw attention. Anyone not having Heiskanen on their Calder ballot quite obviously did not watch enough western conference hockey last season. What he did as a rookie (and how he’s following up with consistent play again this season) does not get near the love it should (or deserves).
- What are your thoughts on John Stevens - what role is he taking in coaching, how is he fitting in, is he having a nice day? The roles got flipped around after Montgomery’s dismissal. Now, reportedly, the coaches are back to a lot of what they had been doing before the change. Stevens has taken over the defense with Bowness moving to head coach. Considering how well the team is doing on that side of the puck, I’d say he’s fitting in alright here in Dallas so far. But it’s also small sample sizes since he took on that role, so the jury is also still kind of out on the long-term outlook.
- How is our old pal Ben Bishop doing? (Also, please wax poetic about International Treasure Anton Khudobin) The Stars goaltending tandem currently sits atop the league in goals against per game average, so I’d say they’re both doing just fine. Khudobin is a treasure that should be protected at all costs. Seriously, this embodies the levity and fun he injects into the locker room. And a fun locker room means a loose locker room, which generally means the team is rolling nicely.
Bonus: Game prediction (can be anything you think will happen besides “Dallas will crush LA”) I’ll give you three BOLD predictions: A) Jason Dickinson will have a stick or fist or puck hit his face - because it’s a magnate for it. He just has a face. B) Alexander Radulov will take an offensive zone penalty. That’s your free space on the game bingo card. C) Dallas won’t allow a power play goal against. Their PK has been very good to elite this year, and the Kings’ power play is decidedly... Not that.
Los Angeles Kings
Alex Iafallo — Anze Kopitar — Tyler Toffoli
Nikolai Prokhorkin — Jeff Carter — DustinBrown
Adrian Kempe — Blake Lizotte — Austin Wagner
Kyle Clifford — Mike Amadio — Trevor Lewis
Sean Walker — Drew Doughty
Ben Hutton — Alec Martinez
Derek Forbort — Matt Roy
Stars' expected lineup from morning skate:— Mike Heika (@MikeHeika) January 8, 2020