They see me rollin'. They hatin'.
- Jul 28, 2004
Enjoy your hockey while you can. There are only three NHL games remaining on the schedule tonight before a league-wide transition into this weekend’s All-Star Game festivities. LA will be part of those final trio of games, as they visit Nashville for an important Wild Card fueled matchup on Wednesday.
After this one, the Kings will be off until Feb. 10, a span of 10 days — which will likely come as a sigh of relief for all involved.
There is perhaps nothing this team needs more than to not play for a while in hopes they can somehow find their game again. It has been a dreadful stretch for coach Todd McLellan and his group, compiling a record of just 2-8-6 in their last sixteen contests.
The magic from the first two-plus months of the season is gone, and now the Kings find themselves fighting for their playoff lives in the wildcard. Players and coaches have been saying it for weeks now, but this game is definitely a must-win.
Not just for team morale headed into a long break, but also for job security. GM Rob Blake has few levers to pull at this time, yet he will most likely be reevaluating the entire situation over the break. While the Hall of Famer was quick to shut down any notion of a coaching change several weeks ago, not many NHL coaches can survive a stretch in which their team can only muster two wins in sixteen tries. A win tonight in Nashville could potentially provide a glimmer of hope for when the team returns to action.
Meanwhile, the Predators and Kings are tied with 54 points in the Wild Card Standings entering play tonight. LA does have three games in hand, but as they have proven this year, games in hand mean nothing if you don’t win those games.
— The Kings have scored eight shorthanded goals so far this season, fifth-most in the NHL.
— Last time out, Phil Danault skated in his 600th career NHL game and picked up his 10th goal of the year. In doing so, Danault became the 11th different skater in Kings history to score a goal in their 600th career game, and the first to do so since Mike Richards in 2013.
— Drew Doughty is currently riding a four-game point streak (1G, 3A). Should he pick up a point tonight, it would mark his first point streak of at least five games since a stretch from Jan. 30 – Feb. 19, 2022 (3G, 4A).
— Rookie Alex Laferriere is holding a modest three-game point streak (all assists). He is the ninth Kings skater in the last 10 years to record an assist streak of three or more games in their rookie season, and the first third-round selection to do so in their rookie season since František Kaberle (76th overall, 1999) in the 1999-00 campaign.
— Goaltender Cam Talbot won’t be the only All-Star this weekend. Rookie defenseman Brandt Clarke will head to San Jose for the AHL All-Star Classic. More on that here:
Kings Projected Lineup vs. Predators
Byfield – Kopitar – Kempe
Fiala – Danault – Moore
JAD – Dubois – Laferriere
Grundstrom – Turcotte – Kaliyev
Anderson – Doughty
Gavrikov – Roy
Englund – Clarke
Likely scratches: Fagemo, Lewis, Spence
Injured: Arvidsson (LTIR), Copley (LTIR)
Key Game Info
Puck drop is set for 5:00 pm Pacific Time and will be televised by Bally Sports.
Across the Ice
Nashville is coming off a 4-3 defeat to Ottawa on Monday.
Here’s how they lined up for that one:
Forsberg – O’Reilly – Nyquist
Trenin – Sissons – Gurianov
Novak – Glass – Evangelista
Smith – McCarron – Tomasino
Josi – Fabbro
McDonagh – Schenn
Lauzon – Carrier
In their last 10 games, the Predators are 4-5-1. As the home team, they’re 13-12-0 this season.
On This Day in Kings History
On January 31, 1998, Chick Hearn and Vin Scully joined the @LAKings in honoring Bob Miller for 25 years of service with the team. The #LAKings awarded Bob Miller with a lifetime contract, and followed up with a 3-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.#GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/vyRioBDpGj
— The Kingstorian (@Kingstorian) January 31, 2024