Without sounding dramatic or attempting to build a hollow storyline, the Kings enter play on Saturday night with an opportunity to do something they have not done so far this season… win two games in a row at home.
Coming off a 2-1 victory on Thursday over Florida, attention now turns to St. Louis, in what will be their first of three games against the Blues in 2023-24.
The biggest question entering tonight is the health and availability of center PL Dubois. From our report earlier today:
Optimism reigns supreme at the Kings practice facility this morning. After checking in with various sources, we’ve learned Dubois has not been ruled out for tonight. The 25-year-old forward was kept off the ice yesterday, so he didn’t get to test out his injured left leg. “Hopefully, he feels OK on the ice today,” noted one source. As we understand things, a decision will made after the team’s 10:30am morning skate … If the Kings have to go in a different direction, look for Jaret Anderson-Dolan to most likely slide into the 3C slot, joining Alex Laferriere and Arthur Kaliyev to round out the line in that scenario.
While a potential injury to LA’s big offseason acquisition would be unfortunate, there was at least one silver lining from Thursday night’s victory — Kevin Fiala was LA’s most effective skater. He scored 80 seconds into the first period and added an assist to his totals. It’s no secret that there were a lot of eyes on Fiala coming in, as coach Todd McLellan and others were wanting him to play a more complete 200-foot game. It appeared Fiala had been reluctant at times to shoot the puck this season, which could explain his uptick in assists but drop off in goals so far. Getting him going on a consistent basis remains a high priority, as when he becomes a threat to shoot the puck, the shifty winger becomes one of LA’s most dangerous weapons.
Fiala currently holds a six-game point streak (3G, 7A) against the Blues, dating back to Jan. 1, 2022. Last season, Fiala registered seven points in three games vs. St. Louis, tied for third-most in the league.
Special teams also continued to shine, specifically the penalty kill. It’s been a remarkable turnaround from just a year ago, when the PK was mediocre, at best. There have been adjustments in philosophy and structure, leading to better execution when playing shorthanded.
How good have they been of late? Not only were the Kings perfect on the penalty kill Thursday night vs. Florida, killing all five shorthanded situations, they haven’t allowed a power play goal by an opposing team for five straight games. Overall, their penalty kill percentage now sits at 88.5%, third-highest in the league.
Goalie Cam Talbot has arguably been the best penalty killer, becoming the team’s true number-one netminder in the process.
Several stats you might not have known:
– After several milestone games for Kings captain Anze Kopitar, tonight is all about Drew Doughty. Playing in his 1,111th NHL game, the veteran defenseman will tie Dave Taylor in games played for the Kings franchise. This is significant because it puts Doughty just one game shy of joining Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown as the top three in games played for LA. Also of note is the fact Taylor actually drafted two of them during his time as General Manager with the club.
– Doughty’s 1,110 games played ranks seventh among active NHL blueliners. Only 11 defensemen have skated in more games for a single franchise in league history.
– We wouldn’t expect anybody else to pass Taylor again for a long time, if ever. The closest active player on the list with enough runway left to even take a run at it would be Adrian Kempe. He enters play this evening having suited up in 487 Kings games. To reach 1,100 games, he would need to play at least seven more seasons in LA.
– As of today, Anderson-Dolan has been on the NHL roster for 30 days. He will now require waivers to be sent back to AHL Ontario. We explored the situation in detail here.
– Tonight’s game will be televised by KCAL; marking the first time they’re back on channel 9 locally since the team’s last season at The Forum in 1999.
– The Kings have scored the first goal of a game eight times this season and are 7-0-1 in those contests.
JAD is taking the extra ice after practice. I expect Laferriere to be in tonight but will try and confirm with Todd later.
— Austin Stanovich (@AStanovich68) November 18, 2023
Kings Projected Lineup vs. Blues
Byfield – Kopitar – Kempe
Fiala – Danault – Moore
Laferriere – Dubois – Kaliyev
Grundstrom – Lizotte – Lewis
Anderson – Doughty
Gavrikov – Roy
Englund – Spence
Likely scratches: Anderson-Dolan, Moverare
Injured Reserve: Arvidsson (LTIR)
Key Game Info
Puck drop is set for 7:30 pm PST and will be televised by KCAL (channel 9).
While the Kings are favored in this game, more odds and info can be found by checking out FanDuel NHL odds.
For those live in attendance, the LA Kings Booster Club will offer their popular ‘Puck for a Buck’ contest — featuring Carl Grundstrom for this game. Just $1 could win you an autographed puck from an NHL star. Visit their table outside sections 317-318 on the upper concourse for more information.
Across the Ice
St. Louis is coming off a 5-1 defeat in San Jose on Thursday night. Here’s how they’re projected to lineup vs. LA:
Buchnevich – Thomas – Kapanen
Saad – Schenn – Kyrou
Toropchenko – Hayes – Vrana
Blais – Sundqvist – Neighbours
Leddy – Parayko
Krug – Faulk
Perunovich – Bortuzzo
On This Day in Kings History
On November 18, 1981, Marcel Dionne established an @LAKings' franchise record when he scored four goals for the third time in his career. Charlie Simmer recorded four points, and Mario Lessard made 29 saves in an 8-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings.#LAKings #GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/GKVLkNahh6
— The Kingstorian (@Kingstorian) November 18, 2023
Lineup graphic via ALo Images
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