They see me rollin'. They hatin'.
- Jul 28, 2004
Another day, another game, and another opportunity for the Kings to get back to playing a winning brand of hockey.
Taking on the Red Wings on Saturday night, coach Todd McLellan’s crew will attempt to put a stop to their seven-game winless streak (0-3-4).
On a positive note, all has not been lost over this stretch. Trying to excuse away losses isn’t possible, yet having picked up points in four of those games could be a positive note in the standings later this season. With four overtime losses in their most recent seven games, the Kings have actually done something no other team has done this season. Further, the Kings themselves haven’t had four OT losses in a seven-game stretch since 2015.
As they pay a visit to Detroit tonight, it’s hard to encapsulate how frustrating the last seven games have probably been for McLellan and his group. Outside of blowing leads late in games, there hasn’t been much consistency in how they lose. It’s been mistakes, sure. Just not always by the same players.
Case in point, look no further than what took place Wednesday night in Florida in overtime. After an uncharacteristic and unnecessary penalty taken by Adrian Kempe, the Panthers scored a power play goal with .7 seconds remaining in the overtime frame. It handed LA their eighth loss in post-regulation play out of only ten tries. Perhaps even more aggravating for the club is that PL Dubois nearly scored a beautiful game-winner moments before, had it not been for the post. Just like baseball, hockey is a game of inches and LA seems like they need every single inch in order to squeeze out a win right now.
Making matters even worse, the Kings have suddenly lost all of the distance they created in the Pacific Division standings earlier this year. LA now sits in third place, with both Edmonton and Seattle just three points back. Any hope of winning or even competing for a Division title needs to be resurrected quickly, as Vancouver is beginning to run away with things.
As far as tonight’s lineup is concerned, anything is possible considering the team’s recent play. Will McLellan opt to let the same lineup work their way out of the slump or will he continue to tinker?
In goal, David Rittich got the nod against Detroit last week. He could start again tonight, then also get one of the back-to-back games coming up on Monday and Tuesday. In three appearances with the Kings thus far, Rittich is 2-0-1 with a .926 save percentage.
Rookie Brandt Clarke is also an option to draw in on defense. It would be his second NHL appearance of the season.
– The Kings have now allowed one or fewer first period goals in 31 straight games. That is the longest streak in Kings history and tied for the second longest streak by any NHL team in the last five seasons. (s/t Blake Warye)
— The Red Wings won all three games on their recent California trip, including a 4-3 shootout victory over the Kings at Crypto.com Arena last week.
— Phillip Danault and Adrian Kempe each have five goals and seven points over their last five games against the Red Wings.
— Danault is also set to skate in his 200th game with the Kings tonight. Danault hit the 75-assist mark in his 199th game as a King on Thursday night, courtesy of his 15th helper of the season. Danault is the first Kings skater since Mike Richards (75A in 181 GP) in 2013-14 to record 75 assists within their first 199 games as a member of the Kings.
— The Kings enter tonight with a league-best 87.1% penalty-killing percentage on the year. They also have done quite well against the Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena since the 2016-17 season, having successfully killed 15 of their last 16 shorthanded situations (93.8 PK%) vs. Detroit over that span.
— Drew Doughty (149) sits one goal shy of becoming the second defenseman in franchise history to reach the 150-goal mark, trailing only Rob Blake (161).
Kings Projected Lineup vs. Red Wings
Byfield – Kopitar – Kempe
Fiala – Danault – Moore
Laferriere – Dubois – Kaliyev
Grundstrom/JAD – Lizotte – Lewis
Anderson – Doughty
Gavrikov – Roy
Englund – Spence/Clarke
Likely scratches: Anderson-Dolan, Clarke
Injured: Arvidsson (LTIR), Copley (LTIR)
Key Game Info
Puck drop is set for 4:00 pm Pacific Time and will be televised by Bally Sports.
Across the Ice
Detroit is coming off a 3-2 overtime loss to Edmonton on Thursday.
Here’s how they lined up for that one:
Derek Lalonde said he anticipates using same forwards against LA Kings as against Oilers, but hasn't decided yet if Lyon or Reimer starts; one will go Saturday, the other Sunday at Toronto. Justin Holl will get into one of the games.
— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) January 12, 2024
Over their last 10 games, the Red Wings are 5-4-1. At home, they hold a 10-7-4 record this season.
On This Day in Kings History