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Nashville Predators @ Los Angeles Kings Preview: Taking On The Champs

The Nashville Predators' long road trip continues tonight in Los Angeles (9:30 p.m. Central on FS-TN) against a Kings team that is just getting up to speed these days.

Christian Petersen

The Stats

Nashville Predators Los Angeles Kings
Record 1-2-3 21st 2-2-1 19th
GF/Game 1.67 28th 2.00 24th
GA/Game 2.50 8th 2.80 15th
5-on-5 SF/60 20.6 30th 30.7 11th
5-on-5 SA/60 25.5 4th 27.3 12th
Fenwick Close 47.81 21st 54.67 4th
5-on-5 Save % .908 21st .896 27th
5-on-4 GF/60 7.8 12th 1.6 30th
# of PP's/Gm 3.17 28th 5.40 3rd
4-on-5 GA/60 7.2 16th 1.7 6th
# of PK's/Gm 3.17 2nd 5.40 29th

It will be interesting to see how much of a role special teams play into tonight's contest. In 5-on-5, the Kings are carrying the play, but have been undermined by poor goaltending results. Power play and penalty killing numbers are all over the map due to much smaller sample sizes, but the big story here is on the Shots For & Against battle in 5-on-5, along with that Fenwick Close line. Just as with last season, the Kings are generally tilting the ice in the right direction, while the Predators are not, putting extra pressure on Pekka Rinne.

Los Angeles Kings

For the perspective from La-La Land, make sure to check out the preview at Jewels From The Crown.

The Kings are shaking off a sluggish start, having opened 0-2-1, but since then they have beaten Phoenix and Vancouver. This is very much the same bunch that claimed the Stanley Cup back in June, (there was almost no turnover from that team), so they aren't likely to be frustrated by any short-term difficulties.

That lack of turnover does present a challenge to younger players trying to work their way up the ladder, however. Over at Mayor's Manor, we hear that aspiring center Andrei Loktionov has requested a trade, since he can't break into the NHL lineup:

This boils down to playing time, something the highly skilled forward isn't likely to see in Los Angeles anytime soon.

Deep at center, the Kings moved the 22-year old Russian over to the wing two seasons ago. And according to both the player and former coach Terry Murray, that was a failed experiment.

Now, with Jarret Stoll signing a multi-year contract extension last summer, the team is locked up down the middle for many years to come - with Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards and Stoll.

As for lines, these are lifted from JFTC's game preview:

Dustin Brown Anze Kopitar Justin Williams
Kyle Clifford Mike Richards Jeff Carter
Simon Gagne Jarret Stoll Trevor Lewis
Dwight King/ Dustin Penner Colin Fraser Jordan Nolan

Those top two lines will be a handful, without a doubt. The surprising omission here has been Dustin Penner, who has played in only two games and is once again in the doghouse (presumably eating pancakes). The Kings defense pairings were listed as follows:

Rob Scuderi Drew Doughty
Alec Martinez Slava Voynov
Jake Muzzin Davis Drewiske

Nashville Predators

The Preds, as we all know, are looking to generate a few goals, but for right now the answers will have to come from within, as Nashville declined to pick up ex-Carolina forward Zach Boychuk, who was available on waivers but went instead to Pittsburgh.

So it's line shuffling for the present time, and Josh Cooper's report from yesterday's practice brings line combinations very similar to what I suggested they might go with against Phoenix on Monday:

Colin Wilson Mike Fisher Martin Erat
Gabriel Bourque David Legwand Brandon Yip
Sergei Kostitsyn Nick Spaling Craig Smith
Rich Clune Paul Gaustad Matt Halischuk

My lineup just had Spaling & Smith switched between center & wing, but still on the same line.

Make sure to check back later and join us for the Game Thread, it'll be a late night folks!

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