You might get a sinking feeling in your stomach when you see the Los Angeles Kings on the schedule tonight. However, the Kings have gotten off to an inconsistent start so far. It may also surprise you that the Predators have won 11-of-19 games against LA dating back to the start of 2008. That includes two wins in three games last season.
In description, Nashville and Los Angeles aren't so different. Two teams with premier goaltenders, that struggle to score, yet are ridiculously hard to play again. Of course, the Kings have a couple of lengthy playoff runs and a Stanley Cup ring in their corner, so advantage them.
|Los Angeles Kings||Nashville Predators|
|5-on-5 Close SF/60||29.0||17th||26.6||23rd|
|5-on-5 Close SA/60||25.9||9th||27.3||10th|
|5-on-5 Close Save %||.917||17th||.880||28th|
|# of PP's/Gm||3.57||18th||3.00||24th|
|# of PK's/Gm||4.00||21st||3.50||16th|
Data sourced from NHL.com and ExtraSkater.com.
Los Angeles Kings
Jonathan Quick hasn't gotten off to the greatest start this season. He's won just three of his six starts, and has a save percentage under .900. Though, it seems within the last few years that the Kings are always slow out of the starting gate. Don't let their most recent 5-1 loss to the Lightning fool you, this is still an elite NHL team.
If you've watched any playoff hockey in recent memory, the Kings roster should echo through your mind with a strong sense of familiarity. Kopitar, Brown, Richards, and Doughty are all world-class talents. Jeff Carter paces the team in the goal-scoring department with four, which is twice as much as the top Predator scorer(s).
Los Angeles is second in the league in hits with 208, so suffice it to say they are going to come out walloping and will play with intensity until the final buzzer.
Man, what a fun game that was on Tuesday. I mentioned in the game recap that the lulls the Preds have been having during games can't happen against certain teams. This is one of those teams.
On the other side of the rink, for the most part Pekka Rinne has looked good, not great, to start this season. He is also of a sub .900 save percentage, and a not-so-fantastic 3.11 GAA. But we're only six games into the season, those numbers will no question go up. Of all the things on this team I'm worried about, Pekks is far down on the list.
Whatever Patric Hornqvist is doing to psych himself up before games, someone make sure he keeps doing it. Even though he's getting less ice team than five other forwards, he's consistently looked like the best player on the ice, and is throwing 14.2 shots on net every 60 minutes.
This will be a good test for the Predators. They are ending their home stand, and have a modest two game win streak in their back pocket. If Nashville wants to hang with the big boys, and (once again) prove to the rest of the league they aren't a team to be taken lightly, they'll need to kill the king.
Get ready for a good old fashion goalie duel tonight, my friends. Fox Sports Tennessee finally brings their broadcast back from the dead. Puck drop is at 7 p.m. Central.