Tuesday night marks the opening of a crucial four-game road trip for the Kings and new coach Jim Hiller. Things begin when LA and Buffalo meet up for the second time in two weeks. It’s probably safe to assume the Kings players have not forgotten what happened the last time the clubs faced off at Cyrpto.com Arena. That was a contest where LA let a two-goal lead slip away and defenseman Drew Doughty let his displeasures with some of his teammates known post-game.
Even though it hasn’t been that long, much has changed since that game. For starters, the Kings have a new bench boss in Hiller. And in their lone game under his stewardship, they came out of the gates flying against Edmonton on Saturday and never looked back, in what was a 4-0 victory over their division rival.
As discussed on this week’s Kings of the Podcast episode, goaltending is an interesting topic as the road trip begins because, on one hand, Hiller will likely want to keep the hot hand going with David Rittich having just shutout the Oilers. The question then becomes, how do you incorporate All-Star Cam Talbot back into the mix? Do you split the four-game trip evenly between the netminders? The Kings have run into issues already this season when ‘over-playing’ a goalie to a certain extent. A quick peek at Talbot’s numbers in December and January would naturally lead to that conclusion. Hiller does not want to make the same mistake with Rittich.
Another elephant in the room, if you will, is the pending return of Viktor Arvidsson. He’s been practicing in a regular-colored jersey of late — rotating in with the top six and is scheduled to draw back into action later on this trip (we’ll have more on that in a subsequent article
this afternoon, including several salary cap implications to the Kings roster see here). The importance of getting a player like Arvidsson back cannot be overstated. He provides many of the things the team is missing right now, including a right shot on the top power-play unit, as well as a highly skilled winger that could potentially slot in next to PL Dubois.
Another possibility for Hiller is to place Arvidsson back on the second line with Trevor Moore and Phil Danault, knowing that they had much success and chemistry in the past. That scenario would most likely push Kevin Fiala down to the third line with Dubois, which wouldn’t be the worst thing either. The staff at Mayor’s Manor looked at several possible lineup changes once Arvidsson returns, check out that article below.
— The Sabres have earned at least one point in 18 of their last 21 home games against the Kings (17-3-1), including wins in three of their last four home games.
— Quinton Byfield is riding a five-game point streak (4G, 4A). It’s his second streak of at least five games this season.
— Trevor Lewis carries a more modest three-game point streak (2G, 1A) into Buffalo. However, he also has goals in back-to-back games and sits three tallies shy of the 100-goal mark in his NHL career.
— PL Dubois has 15 points (6G, 9A) over his last 11 games against Buffalo, dating back to Oct. 27, 2018.
— Buffalo’s Dylan Cozens has nine points (4G, 5A) in his last nine games overall. More specific to games involving the Kings, Cozens has registered six points (2G, 4A) in his five career games against LA, including a goal and an assist at Cryto.com Arena last month.
— In Buffalo’s last nine games, goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has made eight starts and posted a .936 save percentage in that span.
— In his last seven games against the Kings, Alex Tuch has tallied seven points (4G, 3A), including two multi-point performances in that span.
— Sabres defenseman Owen Power has played in 51 games so far this season; however, he’s now out with an undisclosed injury (suffered in practice on Monday) and will not play tonight.
— Buffalo will be wearing their black and red ‘goat head’ jerseys for this game. It’s one of 15 times they’re bringing back the mid-90s inspired sweater this season.
Kings Projected Lineup vs. Sabres
Byfield – Kopitar – Kempe
Moore – Danault – Fiala
Laferriere – Dubois – JAD
Grundstrom – Turcotte – Lewis
Anderson – Doughty
Gavrikov – Roy
Englund – Spence
Likely scratches: Clarke, Kaliyev
Injured: Arvidsson (LTIR), Copley (LTIR), Lizotte (IR)
Key Game Info
Puck drop is set for 4:00 pm Pacific Time and will be televised by Bally Sports.
Across the Ice
Buffalo is coming off a 3-1 defeat against St. Louis on Saturday.
Here’s how they lined up for that one:
Skinner – Thompson – Okposo
Benson – Cozens – Peterka
Greenway – Mittelstadt – Tuch
Girgensons – Krebs – Robinson
Dahlin – Jokiharju
Power – Clifton
R. Johnson – E. Johnson
In their last 10 games overall, the Sabres are 5-5-0. As the home team. they’re 11-14-1 this season.
On This Day in Kings History
On February 13, 1972, Butch Goring became the first player in @LAKings' history to score on a penalty shot when he beat New York Rangers goaltender Gilles Villemure in a 4-2 loss at Madison Square Garden.#LAKings #GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/RRilUeNy9v
— The Kingstorian (@Kingstorian) February 13, 2024
Game day graphic created by ALoImages
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