Despite this difficult stretch the Kings are in, Wednesday night will be a special evening, as Kings captain Anze Kopitar is set to be honored before puck drop at Crypto.com Arena. In a career that has unfortunately flown under the radar on a national level at times has surely not been taken for granted locally.
Currently skating in his 18th NHL season, Kopitar is set to be honored for multiple accomplishments, including: becoming the Kings franchise leader in regular season games played (surpassing Dustin Brown’s then-record of 1,296 games in October), passing Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne for the Kings franchise leader in assists (a then-record of 757 assists), and scoring his 400th career goal.
Whenever Kopitar hangs them up and calls it a career, his jersey will ascend to the arena rafters, and he’ll probably get a statue outside of it. Both will take their place near former captain Dustin Brown, who will also be in attendance tonight to honor his former teammate.
Although it will be an emotional night for Kopitar and his family, and rightfully so, there is still an important game to be played shortly after. The Sabres are in town for a tilt with the struggling Kings. Both squads are coming off disappointing efforts in their previous contests, so look for each team to come out sharp and ready to play.
As the All-Star break looms in the near future, LA is all but out of the running for a Pacific Division title. Right now, coach Todd McLellan and his group are just trying to hold off the Wild-Card challengers behind them in the standings. With the Edmonton Oilers having won 14 games in a row and Vancouver steamrolling everyone, LA needs to keep pace. Tonight begins the final four games remaining before a near two-week break, and every one of those contests will have a must-win feel for LA.
Pending the outcome of morning skate, we’ll get a better sense of the starting goaltender. David Rittich has started the past few games, yet McLellan is likely to turn back to Cam Talbot for tonight.
Perhaps the only other lineup change would be to scratch Brandt Clarke. He was a late sub for Matt Roy on Monday. With the latter expected to return, it will come down to Clarke or Jordan Spence on the third defensive pair.
— Drew Doughty scored his 11th goal of the season and fifth power-play goal of the campaign on Monday vs. San Jose. Additionally, the goal moved Doughty into sole possession of third place all-time among NHL defensemen with his seventh tying or go-ahead goal within the final 2:00 of regulation, trailing only Ray Bourque (12) and Larry Murphy (8).
— Buffalo’s Casey Mittelstadt has notched five points (2G, 3A) in his last four games against Los Angeles.
— Sabres forward Peyton Krebs has recorded a goal in back-to-back games against the Kings. With a goal in tonight’s game, Krebs would become the first Buffalo skater since Dave Andreychuk to record a goal streak of three or more games against Los Angeles.
— Rasmus Dahlin has recorded nine points (3G, 6A) in his last nine games for the Sabres.
— Following tonight, the Kings and Sabres will conclude their season series in Buffalo next month.
Kings Projected Lineup vs. Sharks
Byfield – Kopitar – Kempe
Moore – Danault – Fiala
Laferriere – Dubois – JAD
Grundstrom – Lewis – Fagemo
Anderson – Doughty
Gavrikov – Roy
Englund – Clarke
Likely scratches: Kaliyev, Spence
Injured Reserve: Arvidsson (LTIR), Copley (LTIR), Lizotte (week-to-week)
Key Game Info
Puck drop is set for 7:30 pm Pacific Time and will be televised by Bally Sports. Be sure to tune into the pregame show at 7pm, though, as BSW plans to air the Kopitar ceremony in its entirety.
For those live in attendance, the LA Kings Booster Club will offer their popular ‘Puck for a Buck’ contest — featuring Anze Kopitar 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.
LA Royal Army, another fan support group, has a booth outside section 303. They do watch parties and other fun activities. Stop by and check them out.
Across the Ice
Buffalo is coming off a 4-2 defeat against Anaheim on Tuesday
Here’s how they lined up for that one:
Skinner – Thompson – Tuch
Greenway – Cozens – Quinn
Benson – Mittelstadt – Peterka
Girgensons – Krebs – Okposo
Samuelsson – Dahlin
Power – Jokiharju
R.Johnson – Clifton
In their last 10 games, the Sabres are 5-5-0. As the road team, they’re 9-11-3 this season.
On This Day in Kings History
On January 24, 2008, legendary @Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda joined the @LAKings' broadcast and delivered an inspirational pregame speech that resulted in a 3-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks.#LAKings #GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/SbKRtqOtQu
— The Kingstorian (@Kingstorian) January 24, 2024
Lineup graphic via ALoImages
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