Game Day Preview #7, New York Islanders @ Los Angeles Kings
Jonathan Quick’s return has made it impossible for us to concentrate on any other information.
HOW TO WATCH
Game Time: 7:30 PM Pacific
TV: Fox Sports West
Radio: iHeart Radio
The Opposition: Lighthouse Hockey
Jonathan Quick Coming Back Solves All Our Problems, Right?
That’s right, everyone’s favorite feisty, heart attack-inducing goalie is back tonight, having been cleared to return from the injury he sustained or aggravated or mysteriously induced some time between the Kings’ first and second games. While Quick can’t help the Kings on offense — if he wants to score goals, he’s more than welcome to, but we suspect he’d prefer not to — he should be able to help keep slightly more pucks out of the Kings’ net. Jack Campbell has performed admirably, including keeping the Kings competitive in games they had no real business being in, but, well, he’s not Jonathan Quick.
The Kings’ 2.67 goals against per game is still relatively low — it puts them in the top ten in the league, and above them are three teams who have played less games (New Jersey, Arizona, and Tampa Bay), and the rest are teams with goalies who can go toe to toe with Quick when it comes to stopping pucks (Anaheim’s John Gibson, Nashville’s Pekka Rinne, Montreal’s Carey Price, Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck, and, Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov, who’s looking more like “good” Varlamov and less like “historically bad season” Varlamov). The Kings have some work to do if they want to get Quick another Jennings Trophy, but keeping pucks out, overall, hasn’t been their biggest concern.
This New Rookie Solves All Our Problems, Right?
The call-up of Sheldon Rempal is as much of a reward for Rempal’s hot start in the AHL as it is a sign that Rob Blake isn’t satisfied with the personnel as currently assembled. No, Rempal isn’t going to be the savior of the Kings, but if his appearance pushes other players to up their game, lest they be the one to sit as a healthy scratch, well, hooray for competition. Kyle Clifford’s already penciled in as one of the scratches tonight, and they’ll need to sit one other forward. Reports indicate that it’s not going to be Austin Wagner, either. Tanner Pearson skated with the extras earlier this week, but scratching him just doesn’t feel right. The most likely candidate will be Jaret Anderson-Dolan, as the Kings try to stretch out his nine-game audition before the first year of his ELC kicks in (he’s at four games right now). Note, however, that I didn’t say JAD is the correct choice to sit.
Forward Sheldon Rempal Recalled from AHL
The Islanders may be sans John Tavares, but they’re doing the best with what they’ve got, and what they’ve got is Mat Barzal. The second-year pro has picked up largely where he left off last season, with five points in five games. He’s the kind of player who’s a delight to watch … when he’s not squaring off against your team. Barzal is the Islanders’ best offensive weapon, and the Kings will need to keep him contained if they want to have a shot at coming away from this one with a victory.
If you see Mat Barzal dump the puck in, take a picture - it doesn't happen often.@NYIslanders @Barzal_97 #Isles pic.twitter.com/gnSK8k7RTh— The Point (@ThePointHockey) October 18, 2018
Perhaps working in the Kings’ favor is that the Islanders are another team that is slow to start. The Islanders have scored just one first-period goal all season, and allowed six against. (The Kings have scored four and allowed eight.) If the Kings can find it within themselves to play a full 60 minutes, starting from the very first drop of the puck, there’s a chance they could put enough pressure on the Islanders to actually - gasp - play with a lead tonight.