They see me rollin'. They hatin'.
Jul 28, 2004
Sunshine is good for the soul. Maybe it can be a cure for other things, as well.
The Kings of the Road are no more. Right now, LA is mired in a five-game losing streak and the pressure is mounting as they arrive in Tampa Bay for the first of two games in Florida this week.
Their most recent defeat on Sunday was particularly heartbreaking for coach Todd McLellan and crew because of the nature of the loss. Once again, the Kings had a lead in the third period, only to let it slip away. With the game appearing to be heading to overtime — where the Kings would be guaranteed of at least a point — a last-minute go-ahead goal ended any remaining optimism on the night.
What’s been hurting LA as of late isn’t a lack of structure or effort. Unfortunately, it’s one of those stretches where nearly every individual mistake seems to end up in the back of the net. Costly turnovers and bad changes have both led to goals against. As the losses continue to pile up, the pressure continues to mount.
As the Kings prepare to take on a highly skilled Lightning club, there are signs of optimism to point to. For example, LA’s power play was finally able to break through on Sunday. Despite struggling in recent weeks, some good momentum was gained in Washington. McLellan and the coaching staff will now look to carry that into the rest of the road trip.
The defensive pairs have been in complete shuffle mode as of late. For the first time this season, Matt Roy and Vladislav Gavrikov were split up for more than a shift or two. Rookie Brandt Clarke made his season debut on the second pairing. Jordan Spence was the odd man out on Sunday, which also allowed Clarke to get some time on the second power-play unit. McLellan is set to revert back to his usual defensive pairs tonight.
Last year, in the Kings lone visit to Amalie Arena, the Lightning skated to a 5-2 victory. Jaret Anderson-Dolan and Phil Danault had the goals that night. Could history be enough to get the former back into the lineup?
McLellan may have actually been on to something recently, just needed one small tweak.
Leave the top line alone (it's been the best line). Would have suggested:
Byfield – Kopitar – Kempe
Laferriere – Dubois – Moore
Fiala – Danault – Kaliyev
Grundo/JAD – Lizotte – Lewis https://t.co/zpcydv44Gf
— The Mayor | Team MM (@mayorNHL) January 9, 2024
Stats Worth Knowing
— Trevor Moore will skate in his 300th NHL game tonight. In doing so, he will become the 37th different undrafted skater to reach that mark among all active NHL players.
— Andreas Englund continues to lead all NHL defenseman with 19 drawn penalties.
— Adrian Kempe has six goals over his last six games (6G, 2A), dating back to Dec. 27, 2023. Historically, on a goals-per-games played basis, Kempe has scored goals in the month of January vs. any other month. He’s also scored more against the Eastern Conference, and more against the Atlantic Division. However, some of his lowest production has come against Tampa Bay (1G in 8 GP) and Florida (1G in 12 GP).
— Tampa has an 11-5-3 record at home this season. Thus, LA will likely need to rely on their strong penalty kill to have a chance at victory tonight. Fortunately, over the Kings last 16 shorthanded situations against the Lightning, they’ve allowed just one power-play goal. LA’s 93.8% (15-for-16) penalty kill percentage over this period gives them the highest PK% in the league vs. Tampa since the 2019-20 season.
Kings Projected Lineup vs. Lightning
Byfield – Kopitar – Kempe
Fiala – Danault – Moore
Laferriere – Dubois – Kaliyev
Grundstrom/JAD – Lizotte – Lewis
Anderson – Doughty
Gavrikov – Roy
Englund – Spence
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
Tampa is coming off a 7-3 thrashing in Boston on Saturday.
Here’s how they lined up at practice yesterday:
Over their last 10 games, the Lightning are 5-5-0.
On This Day in Kings History