Previewing the Enemy: Los Angeles Kings
The Los Angeles Kings come into tonight’s contest with a record of 25-16-6 (56 points), eight points ahead of Nashville, and sit 3rd in the Pacific Division. The Kings are 11-7-4 away from home this season, and are 6-4-0 in their last ten games.
The Kings have strung together a pretty impressive January, splitting two games with the Western Conference-leading Dallas Stars, with losses to the New Jersey Devils and the Boston Bruins—however, those teams make up three of the top five in the NHL right now. Wins over offense-heavies Vegas and Edmonton are impressive, especially at the Golden Knights, and they took care of business against a struggling San Jose Sharks team.
Adrian Kempe leads the team in goals with 18 and has added 30 points. Leading in points is a familiar face: Kevin Fiala, who has 16 goals and 47 points on the season. Tied for third is Viktor Arvidsson (12 goals, 33 points). Arthur Kaliyev, the 33rd pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, has 9 goals and 19 points in 34 games this season, but leads the team with seven goals on the power play. His quick shot is definitely something to watch when Nashville is on the penalty kill.
In net, it’s likely Jonathan Quick will start; Quick has a record of 8-10-4 with an 88.4% save percentage. If not, Pheonix Copley has been excellent in a secondary role: he’s 12-3-0 in 15 appearances.
Here were the lines from the 14th against New Jersey. They also had this lineup against Dallas:
The Predators stand at 21-18-16 with 49 points, good for sixth in the Central, and three points out of playoff position. Like Los Angeles, Nashville is 6-4-0 in their last ten, and 10-10-2 at home this season. Filip Forsberg leads the team in both goals and points, getting 18 goals and 39 points in 45 games—just under a point-per-game pace.
The main story this season is Juuse Saros, who is having an impressive season despite giving up five goals against St. Louis last time out. Saros sits at 16-13-5, with a 91.9% save percentage, and currently second in Evolving-Hockey’s goals saved above expected (GSAx) and Goals Above Replacement (GAR).
The Predators are reeling from an up-and-down January, and find themselves on the outside looking in ahead of the All-Star break next month. A win over the Kings would be extremely beneficial, and Nashville luckily plays their last three games before the break at home, but it doesn’t get easier: the Predators host Winnipeg and New Jersey next week in must-win games.
How to Watch
The game airs at 7PM Central/8PM Eastern on Bally Sports South and 102.5 The Game.