Kings blog: Battle of California
Radio: 104.5 "The Zone" (WGFX)
Can the Predators follow up Thursday's big win over San Jose with two more points earned against the Kings? We'll find out in today's special Earth Hour 2009 game; the Preds and Kings agreed to start today's match at 5:00 local time, in time for things to complete before Earth Hour festivities start at 8:30.
Questions to be answered: (1) With a couple days of practice, how will Cal O'Reilly fit in with Martin Erat and Steve Sullivan? (2) What could top Greg Zanon getting his first career game winning goal against San Jose? A Greg de Vries hat trick? (3)
Kings coming in: Thursday night they won a 1-0 shootout decision in Dallas, basically finishing off the Stars' playoff hopes. That victory snapped a three-game losing streak, and tonight's game caps a road trip for L.A. that has seen them go 2-3 so far.
Preds coming in: Gritty, playoff-style hockey has garnered Nashville points in each of the last six games, a 3-0-3 stretch that has kept them barely ahead of Edmonton and St. Louis for 8th place in the Western Conference. Against Western teams, the Preds are on a 9-0-4 streak which began February 19 against the Blues.
Kings to watch: Anze Kopitar, Alexander Frolov, and Dustin Brown have all passed the 20-goal mark, and represent a great young core of players that L.A. will build upon next season. Rookie defenseman Drew Doughty is a sensational skater, and is getting some marginal support in the Calder Trophy race.
Preds to watch:Shea Weber now has 15 points (6G, 9A) in his last 15 games, and Martin Erat 11 points (3G, 8A) in his last 12. Steve Sullivan has 8 goals and 8 assists in his last 17.
Here's a look at the two teams in the main statistical categories, along with overall NHL rank:
The main opportunity for Nashville here is in 5-on-5 play; a gameplan that involves safe play and patience until a turnover presents an opportunity is likely against a team that is vulnerable in goal, but does have the talent up front to capitalize on miscues.
Who draws the penalties, and who heads to the box? Data up through March 22nd:
|Los Angeles||Penalties Drawn||Nashville||Penalties Drawn|
|Player||Draws||Fouls||Pen +/-||Player||Draws||Fouls||Pen +/-|
|Dustin Brown||78||20||+58||Jordin Tootoo||48||44||+4|
|Anze Kopitar||28||8||+20||Martin Erat||25||24||+1|
|Raitis Ivanans||24||42||-18||Ryan Jones||24||10||+14|
|Wayne Simmonds||22||21||+1||Dan Hamhuis||23||24||-1|
|Matt Greene||21||41||-20||Joel Ward||21||12||+9|
|Alexander Frolov||20||12||+8||Vern Fiddler||20||11||+9|
|Penalties Taken||Penalties Taken|
|Raitis Ivanans||24||42||-18||Jordin Tootoo||48||44||+4|
|Matt Greene||21||41||-20||Ryan Suter||16||34||-18|
|Kyle Quincey||12||29||-17||Shea Weber||14||34||-20|
|Denis Gauthier||12||29||-17||Greg de Vries||11||26||-15|
|Jarret Stoll||14||26||-12||Martin Erat||24||24||+1|
|Drew Doughty||11||25||-14||Dan Hamhuis||23||24||-1|
Dustin Brown is the undisputed King of NHL Penalty Plus/Minus; the Preds need to pay attention and avoid unnecessary penalties tonight.
Lastly, here's a look at the goaltenders...
|2008 - Erik Ersberg||27||1417||8||10||5||4||61||2.58||613||552||.900||0|
|2008 - Jason LaBarbera||19||995||5||8||4||1||47||2.83||440||393||.893||2|
|2008 - Jonathan Quick||37||2073||18||15||1||6||88||2.55||978||890||.910||4|
|2008 - Dan Ellis||35||1965||11||19||4||5||96||2.93||963||867||.900||3|
|2008 - Pekka Rinne||44||2510||25||11||4||4||93||2.22||1197||1104||.922||7|