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Preview: Kings Look to Bring Their “Eh?” Game Tonight Against the Leafs

Eastern Canada swing begins tonight in Toronto, as Kings look to build on Saturday’s overtime victory before traveling to Ottawa and Montreal

Toronto Maple Leafs v Los Angeles Kings Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

How to Watch

Game Time: 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time

TV: Fox Sports West, TSN4 (Canada)

Radio: LA Kings Audio Network; iHeart Radio

The Opposition: Pension Plan Puppets

What to Watch

  • Tonight’s contest marks the Kings return to the ice for the first time since Saturday night when Drew Doughty’s last minute overtime goal propelled the team over Chicago. It also begins a three-game road trip which after tonight takes the team to Ottawa Thursday and then Montreal Saturday night for a Hockey Night in Canada clash with Les Habitants. The team returns to Staples Center November 12th against the Minnesota Wild.
  • Hopefully Saturday’s overtime win indicates that the many line and personnel changes installed by Coach Todd McLellan over the last week are beginning to jell and that the losing attitude and negativity which had hovered over both the team and fanbase the last few weeks has, like the autumn leaves, begun to turn. One indication that the team is ready to play more disciplined hockey is that after taking six penalties and letting down four short-handed goals in Wednesday’s debacle against Vancouver, the Kings incurred only one penalty against the Blackhawks, although they allowed a goal 16 seconds into the penalty kill.
  • It’s no coincidence that the top four teams in points (Boston, Washington, Edmonton, and Buffalo) are the same four teams that lead the league in power-play percentage. Since training camp, Coach McLellan has preached the need for the Kings to improve their special teams, which were disastrous last season and remain so through the first 14 games of the season. The Kings power play ranks 30th out of 31 teams, converting a dismal 9.09 percent. In contrast, the Bruins convert the man advantage at a league-leading clip of 30.68 percent. Similarly the Kings are dead last in the league when a man down, successfully killing only 67.3 percent of penalties. However, the cellar-dwelling Sharks surprisingly have the best PPK unit, successfully killing off 89.6 percent man-down situations. Those intrigued by this stat should follow me at @MarkDevoreNHL and @jftc_Kings as I research whether this is an historical anomaly or simply a counterintuitive advanced metric.
  • LA Kings Insider Jon Rosen posted this morning that the full team did not participate in the morning skate. He further posts Jack Campbell was the only goalie suited up. Thus he presumes Jonathan Quick will start. This surprises me as it appeared earlier in the season that Todd McLellan was more concerned with finding (and staying with) a hot goalie then sticking to a rotation. Thus coming off Saturday night’s victory I would have expected him to go with Campbell between the pipes.
  • Leafs captain and future Hall of Famer John Tavares returns to the lineup following a seven-game absence with a broken finger. Tavares, who signed a seven-year, US$77-million contract with Toronto in free agency two summers ago, put up 47 goals and 88 points in his first season with the Leafs. He had three goals and four assists in eight games this season before suffering the injury three weeks ago.
  • The Leafs have not won the Cup since 1967, which is the longest current championship drought of any team in the NHL. Toronto is currently in fourth place in the Atlantic Division with a record of 7-5-3. They are working on a two-game point streak having suffered a shootout home loss to the Capitals October 29th before snagging an overtime road win Saturday night in Philadelphia.

Lineups

Los Angeles Kings

Grundstrom-Kopitar-Carter
Kovalchuk-Lizotte-Toffoli
Iafallo-Kempe-Brown
Clifford-Amadio-Lewis

Martinez-Doughty
Hutton-Walker
MacDermid-Roy

Quick

Toronto Maple Leafs