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Nashville Predators @ Los Angeles Kings Preview: Recover, Refocus

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It’s best we just pretend that last night ever happened.

Nashville Predators v Los Angeles Kings Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Predators will try to forget last night’s game against the Ducks as quickly as freaking possible as they take on the Kings tonight in the Staples Center.

Last night was an atrocity. No hockey team should play that bad. But all the team can do is learn from it and move on tonight. It seems as if key members of the team realize that.

That’s P.K. Subban talking after the game.

This team is still built to win. Last night didn’t change that.

The Los Angeles Kings

The Kings have also had a bit of a rough start, though not in the same way as the Preds. The injury bug has bitten L.A. hard and in one particular position: goaltender. Jonathan Quick is out for at least three months with a groin injury. Backup Jeff Zatkoff is on injured reserved with a similar injury.

In their place, Peter Budaj has stepped into the starting role. The Kings had Budaj stashed in the AHL last year, but the circumstances thrust him into a bigger role this season. A career .903 save percentage goalie, Budaj started out with the Avalanche before heading to Montreal for a few seasons. He signed a couple consecutive league minimum contracts with Los Angeles, who probably never imagined they would need him for any length of time at the NHL level.

The Kings and Preds find themselves equal in terms of scoring. Both have put up a meager 2.67 goals/game in their first six games. The Kings are getting most of their scoring from Tanner Pearson and Anze Kopitar, who have four goals and two goals respectively. Outside of that, they don’t have much working right now at the forward position (again, much like the Preds).

Their defense is probably their best asset right now. Drew Doughty, Brayden McNabb, and Alec Martinez have six goals combined. Plus, considering the revolving door in goal, they aren’t terrible in their own end, though most of that is probably due to having very solid two-way forwards throughout their lineup.

The Nashville Predators

What’s working, exactly?

Well, the forward lines, occasionally, look fantastic. The power play, when it’s not giving up short-handed goals, looks great too. The defense, when it doesn’t get lost in the offensive end, looks fine. The goaltending... that may be another story.

They just aren’t getting the results you would hope for. So... is anything working?

I suppose what’s working best is the fact that nothing is working well and it’s still October. It is incredible the amount of “sky is falling” rhetoric one sees around the league this early and not just with the Preds. Teams who stumble out of the gate have to answer a lot of uncomfortable questions early in the season. Most of them are merited, but in reality there is an insane amount of hockey left in the season.

Last year, the Anaheim Ducks, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the New York Rangers all had varying degrees of slow starts. All of those teams made the playoffs. One of them won the whole thing.

Conversely, the Montreal Canadiens started the season 9-0 last year. The league was all but ready to hand them the President’s Trophy, but then they collapsed spectacularly and missed the playoffs by a mile.

Perspective. The Preds need it. Preds fans need it. Hopefully last night provided some.

I would expect to see very similar line combinations tonight, with maybe 1-2 tweaks. I would also expect to see Pekka Rinne in goal, as he only played 35 minutes last night.

Reasons to Watch

  • Because last night’s thrill fest was so memorable!
  • It should be interesting to see how the team comes out of the gate in this one. Watch to see how pissed off the team is. I’m calling a James Neal hateful goal in this one.
  • Also, we’ve got to see more from Filip Forsberg. He’s starting to take more shots, but nothing’s going in. Watch to see if Prince Filip can get on the score-sheet.
  • Bottom line: watch because there is no way in heck they can repeat that atrocity.

Pregame Entertainment

Let’s all smile again, shall we? A bit of humor is just what the doctor ordered.

Enter David S. Pumpkins

The Important Details

Another 9:30 PM puck drop here. TV: FS-TN, Radio: 102.5 The Game