Nashville Predators vs. Los Angeles Kings Preview: No Rest for the Weary

Both of these teams' last losses came against the Dallas Stars. LA wants to get back in the win column to chase the Ducks for top spot in the Pacific, while Nashville just wants to stop losing.

Man, things are getting dreary around here, aren't they? The Nashville Predators are in danger of losing six in a row, as the very, very good Los Angeles Kings end their Christmas break by storming the Bridge. They will be well rested(but hopefully still full of roast beast), and the Preds unfortunately will be tired from their 4-1 loss to the Stars and the late flight back from Texas.

From reading the comments and game threads the last few days, y'all could use a hug or something. So before we get into the knitty #gritty of tonight's match up, let's just take a second to appreciate something that isn't hockey that will make you smile. Here is a picture of a cat dressed up like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Here is a picture of a baby, also dressed like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

The Stats

Los Angeles Kings Nashville Predators
Record 25-9-4 5th 16-18-4 22nd
GF/Game 2.63 15th 2.26 26th
GA/Game 1.95 1st 2.90 22nd
5-on-5 Close SF/60 31.7 6th 29.2 17th
5-on-5 Close SA/60 26.3 4th 28.2 13th
Fenwick Close 55.60 2nd 49.30 17th
5-on-5 Close Save % .945 1st .908 27th
5-on-4 GF/60 4.9 24th 7.2 8th
# of PP's/Gm 3.39 13th 3.13 25th
4-on-5 GA/60 5.3 9th 6.6 18th
# of PK's/Gm 3.89 28th 3.26 14th

The Los Angeles Kings

Martin Jones is the Kings' Marek Mazanec. Except instead of regressing a little and going through a rough patch, the kid is still stopping everything in sight. Sure, LA is a markedly better team than Nashville and Jones is still in a very small sample size, but it doesn't make what he's been doing any less impressive. In nine starts he is 8-1-0 with a 1.31 GAA and an insane .953 SV% and three shutouts. That one loss came against the Stars right before the Christmas break. Again, this is coming from an undrafted, 23-year-old net minder who had never seen a minute of NHL action before this month. Unreal.

So the question becomes what to do with him once Jonathan Quick comes back, which is rapidly approaching. Quick, who has been out for six weeks, is with the team on their road trip and is scheduled to come back the first week of January. One would assume, being the 10 year, 58 million dollar man, that he would be granted the crease with relative ease. Ben Scrivens performed very well when he was called upon to start in Quick's absence, but has only seen two starts this month. Conventional wisdom would have Jones sent back down to Manchester and continue with the original Quick/Scrivens tandem.

Either way, the Kings are 2nd in the Pacific division and 3rd in the West, so the fact they have more good goaltending than they can handle shouldn't be that big of a problem.

The Nashville Predators

What else can be said about this team that hasn't been said over the last month? This is the second time this season they have lost five consecutive games, and they have been outscored 21-9 in those contests. Lighting the lamp was a concern coming into this season (when is it not?) but it seems the old scoring by committee plan just isn't working anymore.

Fun fact of the day: the Predators are the only team in the NHL who have yet to give up a shorthanded goal this year. True story.

This preview went to press before the Great Holiday Roster Unfreeze of 2013, so apologies if this is already moot by the time you read this. I'm going to regret this, but I have this can of worms I got for Christmas that I'm just dying to open. So here goes: Who would you want to see be shipped out of town and what do you think the team could get back for them?

If you haven't destroyed each other by 7:00 p.m. CST, FS-TN has your game broadcast waiting! If you find yourselves getting depressed and angry again, just remember: it will all be OK.