Game Day Preview #34, Los Angeles Kings @ Dallas Stars
The Shore vs Unrelated Shore matchup you’ve all been waiting for
Preview: Los Angeles Kings (17-13-3) @ Dallas Stars (13-14-7)
How to Watch and What to Watch For
Surprise! More hockey!
The Kings squeeze in one last game on this leg of the road trip before breaking for the holiday, then finishing off the away games in western Canada. They head south to meet the Stars, who have been similarly besieged by injuries to key players this season; I can’t even remember the last time the Stars had all of their core players in a game at the same time. The easy media narrative on the Stars has been its goaltending, recently, but that’s not really the case -- the issue this year is injuries and a high-scoring forward corps that’s gone quiet at the wrong time. For example, Tyler Seguin’s shooting at 8.5%, his lowest since his rookie season and something that’s sure to correct itself in due course.
But the injury bug strikes again, with Antonie Roussel most likely out (he’s been called a game-time decision, but Lindy Ruff talked today about his decision to play eleven forwards and seven defensemen, so it looks more certain than not that he’ll be out). That’s good news for the Kings, since the last time these two teams met, Roussel tried to fight anyone that moved, and no one wants a repeat of that. It also means there’s going to be some level of discombobulation for the Stars, since playing a forward short means either a defender is going to need to skate on the wing, or someone’s getting double shifted. The Kings could easily take advantage of some organizational chaos in Dallas.
Like the Kings, the Stars have relied on some unexpected players to help carry them. Patrick Eaves has already surpassed last year’s points total (12-8--20 this year; 11-6--17 last year) and finds himself playing alongside Tyler Seguin. Rookie Devin Shore (no relation to our Shore boy) already has five goals and has cashed in at important times for his team. Young defensemen like John Klingberg are being asked to carry more responsibility.
The Kings are likely without Tyler Toffoli again -- no matter what he’s nursing, there’s not much reason to push him back early with a lengthy break right on the horizon -- but that didn’t seem to trouble them too much last night. With players like Nic Dowd finding their groove and Jordan Nolan playing like he’s got something to prove, it’s been good to see contributions from the top of the lineup on down. Anze Kopitar showed just why he’s so valuable to this team last night with some strong, highlight reel shifts, including all the work he did leading up to Devin Setoguchi’s goal.
When Dallas is on their game, they want to play fast, high-event hockey. Can they make the Kings play their game, or will the Kings slow things down to suit their pace? We’ll see.
Projected Line Combinations
Los Angeles Kings
Brown - Kopitar - Setoguchi
King - Carter - Gaborik
Pearson - Dowd - Lewis
Andreoff - Shore - Nolan
Forbort - Doughty
Muzzin - Martinez
Gravel - Gilbert
Benn - Spezza - Ritchie
Korpikoski - Seguin - Eaves
McKenzie - Faksa - Cracknell
Shore - Hudler
Lindell - Klingberg
Hamhuis - Oleksiak
Oduya - Benn
Opposing Preview: Defending Big D