Game Preview: Kings vs. Avalanche

 

Preview:

The Kings (7-6-2; 16 points) host the Avalanche (7-7-1; 15 points) today at 1. Capturing two wins in their back-to-back games in Canada the Kings return to the Staples Center where they will play 13 of their next 16 games. A slow start to the season landed the Kings in the basement of the Pacific division one point behind Dallas. Despite their positioning Los Angeles has played more consistently and is poised to make a run. The Avalanche beat the Predators and Blues in their last two games and have Gabriel Landeskog returning. Landeskog scored the game-winning goal in the third period when the Kings lost to the Avalanche, 3-1 in Colorado.

Jeff Carter and Mike Richards have become the offensive leaders scoring timely goals and creating a more pressing attack. Carter (8 goals) scored against the Oilers and Flames and is tied with Richards and Anze Kopitar with ten points on the season. Most importantly for the Kings, Drew Doughty has begun contributing in the offensive zone. While Doughty has yet to find the back of the net he leads the Kings with seven assists, two of them on power plays to Richards against the Blackhawks. It’s been a forgettable start to the season for Doughty who’s accustomed to scoring goal and has a dreadful -10.

The Kings feed off Doughty’s aggressiveness and his ability to get hot will be paramount if the Kings look to cover ground. The newly acquired, big bodied, Keaton Ellerby allows other defensemen – Jake Muzzin and Slava Voynov – to stay more aggressive in the offensive zone.

 

Team Stats:

 

Goals/g

 GA

   PP

  PK

S/G

 SA

     F/O

     Kings

   2.33

 2.47

14.3%

 81.8%

30.1

25.0

50.6%

Avalanche

   2.47

 2.87

13.0%

 79.1%

29.9

31.7

49.4%

 

Team Leaders:

 

Kings

Avalanche

Points

Jeff Carter: 10

Mike Richards: 10

Anze Kopitar: 10

Matt Duchene: 17

PA Parenteau: 13

Jamie McGinn: 11

Goals

Jeff Carter: 8

Anze Kopitar: 4

Mike Richards: 4

PA Parenteau: 7

Matt Duchene: 6

John Mitchell: 5

Assists

Drew Doughty: 7

Mike Richards: 6

Anze Kopitar: 6

Matt Duchene: 11

Jamie McGinn: 8

PA Parenteau: 6

+/-

Slava Voynov: 9

Trevor Lewis: 5

Justin Williams: 4

John Mitchell: 8

PA Parenteau: 7

Matt Duchene: 6

 

 Final Thought:

This is an important game for both teams. Los Angeles and Colorado look to dig themselves out of an early season hole and both teams have momentum heading into the Staples Center. The key, as usual, for the Kings is to get on the scoreboard first. Against the Oilers and Flames the Kings scored in the first period, which hasn’t always been a common trend. In the January matchup the Kings scored first then surrendered three consecutive goals.

The Kings went 0/6 on their extra man opportunities against the Avalanche. The unit of Doughty, Richards, Brown, Kopitar, and Carter has become a stressful group for opposing penalty killing units. The Avalanche have speed on the offensive end and play a wide open game moving from the outside-in. With both teams rolling heading into the game expect a fast, high scoring game.