The Los Angeles Kings are back on the road, as they head to Dallas tonight for a rematch with the Dallas Stars, after the Kings defeated the Stars 1-0 in regulation back on Saturday. After recording his third straight shutout in that game, Jonathan Quick got Tuesday off, so now he heads into Dallas looking to pick up where he left off to extend his monster shutout streak against his latest victim. You sure hope that sitting on Tuesday didn’t stop the momentum he had going for him.
The Stars were 6-1-0 back on Saturday, and are now 7-2-0, still atop the Western Conference, and after losing in LA on Saturday they bounced back with a 3-2 shootout win in Phoenix on Tuesday. The Kings’ offense has certainly been struggling of late, as I noted in my latest post when I went a little more in-depth about their offensive struggles (you can check that out here if you wish http://thehockeyhouse.net/los-angeles-kings/kings-hang-helpless-bernier-out-to-dry-in-another-loss-to-devils/), and breaking out of their offensive funk is not going to get any easier tonight, against a red-hot Dallas team that is playing a tough defensive system under new head coach Glen Gulutzan, and against Kari Lehtonen, who has made seven of the Stars’ first nine starts this season, and won all of them, while posting a 1.54 GAA and a .955 Sv% to this point. The struggling Los Angeles offense was only able to beat Andrew Raycroft once on Saturday, and now they’ll be tested against the Stars’ best goalie.
Drew Doughty will not play tonight, he will miss his fifth straight game (sixth if you include the Philadelphia game, because he got injured at the start of it) because of that reported shoulder sprain that he suffered. Doughty has been cleared to practice, but not to play yet, but the Kings hope he will be ready for Saturday in Phoenix. This means that Slava Voynov will play his fifth straight game tonight, and although he’s not recorded a point and only has four shots in four games, he’s done a nice job on the power play and has helped create some goals that he didn’t end up getting a point on, and he’s a plus-1 and his overall play has earned a ton of confidence in him from Terry Murray, who played him a team-high 23:25 against New Jersey. He’s likely heading back to Manchester once Doughty’s back, so this may be his last chance to leave one final lasting impression on the Kings brass, so let’s hope he makes the most of it.
Another lineup note, Scott Parse is back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch in the last six games, taking Kevin Westgarth’s spot in the lineup, and Dustin Penner’s spot on the 2nd line with Richards and Brown, as Penner moves down to the 3rd line with Stoll and Richardson. Penner clearly hasn’t shown enough so far, so this is the result. We’ll see if he can earn his way back up into a top-six role.
Other than the goaltender switch, the Stars will throw pretty much the same lineup against the Kings as they did on Saturday, and will hope to be able to finally beat Jonathan Quick. Jamie Benn, Mike Ribeiro, Loui Eriksson, Brenden Morrow, Michael Ryder, and Steve Ott form the top-six up front for the Stars, and the blue line consists of puck-mover Alex Goligoski, big-shooting Sheldon Souray, stay-at-home defensemen Stephane Robidas and Trevor Daley, and will be rounded out by Nicklas Grossman and Adam Pardy. An interesting mix, as all but Robidas are left-handed shots.
If you would like to check out my game preview from the previous game with Dallas, click here… http://thehockeyhouse.net/los-angeles-kings/shooting-stars/
If you want to check out my game story from that game, click here… http://thehockeyhouse.net/los-angeles-kings/the-stars-dont-shine-in-la/
So once again, the Kings have their hands full getting their offense going against the unbeaten Kari Lehtonen, as well as the Dallas Stars who are unbeaten at home. Can the Kings hold off the Stars once more, or will the Stars protect home-ice (in front of an expected crowd of approximately seven people), and avenge their loss at Staples Center from Saturday?