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Game Day Preview #62, Los Angeles Kings @ Tampa Bay Lightning

........do we have to?

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Los Angeles Kings Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

HOW TO WATCH

Game Time: 4:30 PM Pacific
TV: NBCSN
Radio: iHeart Radio
The Opposition: Raw Charge

The Best of the Best

There is not a single player on the Lightning who is a weak link, at least looking at it from this side of the standings. They’ve even managed to figure out how to prop up Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi into looking like functional hockey players. Nikita Kucherov has like 237 points already. They have the league’s best power play (29.8%, nearly 10% better than league average), they score the most goals per game (3.86, well above the league average of 3.01), and they have the luxury of putting Steven Stamkos on the second line. They are good and scary and we should just be able to call this game a win for the Lightning without having to play it because they are probably going to crush the Kings.

The Almost Worst of the Worst

The Kings, already thin on competent bodies, traded Oscar Fantenberg to the Flames today. No, we are not free of Dion Phaneuf. No, we will never be free of Dion Phaneuf. That means that Paul LaDue, Sean Walker, and Matt Roy will all be in, and the prospect of Phaneuf rotating out every so often as a healthy scratch is dead in the water until Alec Martinez is healthy. (He’s at least a week out.) There was no redeeming value to be found in the Kings’ last game against the Florida Panthers, a game where the Kings allowed mistakes to snowball to the tune of five unanswered goals. Mike Amadio and Matt Luff (who was sort-of recalled but not really) are expected to be returned to Ontario and not available tonight, so that they can play meaningless games against lesser competition instead of meaningless games in the NHL. Jack Campbell is slated to start tonight, a small mercy in not allowing Jonathan Quick to face the oncoming slaughter.

The Life of the World to Come

Rob Blake continues to issue challenges to his veteran players, and doubled down today during his post-deadline phone conference.

Blake expects his veterans to lead and compete. He’s expected that all season long. His players have yet to respond in any meaningful fashion and likely won’t now that the season is just down to waiting for mathematical elimination.

Quick, Watch This