How to Watch
Game Time: 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time
TV: Fox Sports West, NHL.com Free Streaming Game
Radio: iHeart Radio
The Opposition: Fear the Fin
What to Watch
Now that the Turkey has settled…
After an emphatic, 4-1 win over the New York Islanders on Thanksgiving eve and a tragic come-from-behind campaign snuffed out in overtime against the San Jose Sharks on Monday, the Kings are one and one with two games left to play in the final week of November.
More importantly, however, the boys in black and white are on the up-and-up this month with six wins and six losses in 12 matches (6-4-2).
While some NHL franchises might be fortunate enough to scoff at an even win/loss record this late in the month, being at .500 right now is a major improvement from the subpar start to the season where LA notched their name in the win column a mere four times across a 13-game span in the month of October (4-9-0).
Nonetheless, the statistical differences between October and what we’ve seen so far in November seem to paint a rosier portrait of an LA team that is currently planted at the bottom of their division as well as the league standings.
The Kings’ goaltending and special teams, for starters, have made very timely bounce backs throughout the month of November and are moving closer to league averages when considering LA’s 12-game sample so far this month.
For example, Jonathan Quick – yeah, that guy who you were ready to make walk the plank at the beginning of the season – has started in nine games since the beginning of November and posted numbers that are above league average in SV% and GAA, not to mention his five wins this month give him a positive win percentage at .556 which is nothing to sneeze at either.
For what it’s worth, if the Kings manage to win the remainder of the week and beat San Jose today and Winnipeg tomorrow, it will be the first month LA has spent above the .500 mark since March of 2017-18, where the team went 8-4-2-1 during a 15-game stretch– no pressure, guys.
A quick trip up north…
All the previous information withstanding, the Kings still have two opponents to face in back-to-back matches to finish out the second month of the regular season and it begins with facing the Turquoise Tiburones at home.
Heading into SAP center, the Kings have a few things to manage in order to come back home with a win.
To begin with, the power play needs to keep clicking. Over the 12-game sample we have thus far in November, the Kings’ power play has been hitting at 14.63%, a number that may not wow the masses, but a noticeable improvement from October’s 9.8%.
The slight uptick on the man advantage has bore fruit for LA and generated a goal in its last three games, something which the Kings should look to replicate tonight against a strong shorthanded defense that currently sits atop the league in PK% at 90.63%. That’s a bit of a tough pill to swallow if you’re just looking at the numbers, but then again, the Kings scored on the man advantage against the Sharks on Monday night, so it’s not as if their PK is impenetrable.
Secondarily, LA needs to generate more tertiary scoring, not just scoring opportunities, but actual goals.
It was all fun and games to watch Austin Wagner get roughly a breakaway a game at the beginning of the season and stuff the biscuit right into the netminder, or plot the puck a few centimeters away from the back of the net, but the Kings are nearing the 30-game mark on the season and although scoring might not be as big of a problem as it was in the past, bottom six scoring can only help this team succeed against the Sharks who have incredible depth just about anywhere you look up and down their lineup.
The obvious candidate to lead the charge for depth scoring is renewed third line winger Adrian Kempe, who had arguably his best game of the season against San Jose on Monday, where he compiled a multi-point night (1-1-2) and looked confident in all areas of the game. He followed a strong performance up with a goose egg against the Islanders but got in tight against their defense a handful of times and created some high danger bids on net.
With Lewis back in the lineup after being out from injury, recent Ontario Reign call-up Matt Luff has had a little more freedom to play his game and focus his efforts offensively in a 4th line capacity. Although he’s only been back for one game, he has been sniffing around the back of the net and created two notably dangerous chances against the Islanders on Wednesday. Kings’ brass called Luff back up for his offensive upside with the hope that he’ll get rolling in the scoring department soon, something that is well within the realm of possibility and a reason to look out for him as he continues to get minutes in LA.
Finally, the Kings need to put together a 60-minute effort as soon as the puck drops at SAP Center.
It almost goes without saying, but if the Kings had the same tenacity they did in the final 30 minutes of Monday nights loss to San Jose, they may have not had to come from behind against the Sharks at all.
The Kings did, however, keep their intensity up against the Islanders despite getting scored on first, and showed how dominant of a team they can be when they carry momentum through a 60-minute time frame.
The Sharks are coming off of a 5-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets and are looking for a win at home to help remedy a shaky start to the season, but LA also has something to rectify for a tough October and with the Kings starting to warm up at the right time, expect sparks to fly in their final week of play on the month.