HOW TO WATCH
Game Time: 5:00 PM Pacific
Radio: iHeart Radio
The Opposition: On the Forecheck
The trade deadline approaches and the Kings roster continues to see more changes. Carl Hagelin, as we all know by now, has been sent to Washington in exchange for one, maybe two, draft picks. Jonny Brodzinski has returned from his conditioning loan to the Ontario Reign, but may not draw into the lineup quite yet. While the common assumption is that Rob Blake’s major shakeups to this roster won’t happen until the draft, other players may get a little more ice time than usual as a chance to highlight their abilities before the trade deadline.
While the Kings are fighting for any sort of relevance, the Nashville Predators are fighting to reach the top of the Central Division. They’re chasing the Winnipeg Jets, who have had their own set of struggles since essentially Christmas, so it’s not far-fetched for the Predators to find themselves on top. The normally stingy Predators have struggled to keep shots against down as of late, averaging about 32 shots against per game over their last 10 games. Backup goaltender Jusse Saros in particular has seen more than his fair share of shots; the Vegas Golden Knights put 50 shots on him just last week. Games like that are outliers but do point to the Predators struggling to hang onto the puck (or keep it out of their own end).
But still: they’re the Nashville Predators. Whether they’re struggling to keep shots away from their goaltender or not, they’re still in a tier above the Kings when it comes to on-ice product. Some Predators fans may be a bit pessimistic regarding the team’s play as of late, but from this side of the ice, this game is going to be a slog, and the speed and strength of the Predators defense is going to expose all sorts of weaknesses in Los Angeles’ game.
Trust me, Nashville. We’re not going to learn anything new about the Kings tonight.
The Kings lineup is in flux a bit, with the team having to shuffle players around now that Hagelin is out of the lineup. Defense, too, may see some changes, with Sean Walker being available after taking a puck to the face against Boston. Matt Roy remains up with the team, so some combination of Walker/Roy/Phaneuf/LaDue will take the ice tonight.
The Predators somehow have become a collection of guys who make me go “oh, he plays there?”, and while they’re battling some injury woes of their own, they’ll still be rolling some formidable lines out against the Kings.
#Preds a.m. skate rushes:— Brooks Bratten (@brooksbratten) February 21, 2019