The Kings will have a four-game streak on points in straight nights against the Carolina Hurricanes, which have the NHL’s best goal difference and percentage, and the Washington Capitals, which are in the top five in both categories.
Earlier this season, the Kings faced two teams in reverse at home, losing 2-0 to Washington led by Alex Ovechkin, and then 5-4 to ruthless Carolina club Rhoda Brind Amora.
However, the Kings have been the most confident and assertive in recent times, winning three of their last four games and scoring points in all four. They took a 4-1 victory over the Florida Panthers shorthair club – a total of seven Florida players entered the COVID-19 protocols Thursday, as did star guard Kings Drew Doughty – to pass Florida’s third home loss of the tournament. season. It was the third victory of the Kings by three or more goals in their last six games, the same number of comfort wins they had in their first 22 matches.
Despite Doughty’s absence, it was like an upside-down night for the remaining 30-year-old kings. Center Anze Kopitar has scored his first goal since November 11, in 14 games in which he made nine assists. Winger Dustin Brown also scored in his second goal in 23 games. Jonathan Quick made his fourth straight start and made 41 saves, further cementing his position as the # 1 Kings defender.
“I think anyone who has been on our team for the past 15 years understands that when he plays, he is a game changer for us,” Brown said. “I’ve played with the top three positional players in the goalkeeper, defender and center throughout my (career), and they’re all great with Kopi, Drew and Quickie.”
Defender Ollie Maatta was another veteran who scored his first goal in 75 games, hit the net four times and posted a plus-3 rating. Christian Volanin replaced Doughty in his first game of the season for the Kings.
At the less experienced end of the spectrum, rookie striker Artur Kaliev distinguished himself. Kaliyev played for the United States in two World Junior Championships, but this season he dropped out of the program. However, the six kings appear to be heading to this year’s tournament starting December 26 and split between Calgary and Red Deer, Alberta, Canada.
While two of the Kings’ most coveted prospects will be out this season – center Quinton Byfield was recovering from an ankle fracture when Canada named its invitees and prolific defender Brandt Clark was kicked out for the second straight year – Kings ” will be fine. represented by five of the 10 participating national teams.
US defender Brock Faber, Slovakian striker Martin Khromyak and Russian defender Kirill Kirsanov returned to their respective countries last year, as did Finnish strikers Samuel Helenius and Kasper Simontaival. Defender Helge Hrans is playing for Sweden for the first time.
Faber is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota and has a modern combination of good positioning, smooth riding and a defensive style that is aggressive but not overly physical.
Khromyak began his career with the same Slovak program, which featured three-time Stanley Cup champion Marian Hossa and Norris Trophy winner Zdeno Chara, as well as former Kings stars Marian Gaborik, Ziggy Palfi and the late Pavol Demitra. Chromyak moved into the North American game this season with 32 points in 23 Ontario Hockey League games.
Kirsanov is a versatile defender who does an excellent job of hitting the zone and uses his stick effectively. He has the shape and strength to hold out for two seasons, competing against senior professionals in the Kontinental Hockey League of Russia.
Helenius and Simontaival offer a kind of thunder and lightning dynamic at opposite ends of the lineup, with the inevitable wingspan and harsh mentality of Helenius contrasting with Simontaival’s fast, petite and skillful play. Simontaival has seven points in the same number of games last year and will be counted on as a balanced attacking threat for the Finns.
Grans was here in Southern California during Ontario’s rule, and he was the only player that the kings borrowed in the tournament from the top two levels of their organization. He is known for his size and agility, but in Sweden at his junior level he showed a burst of attacking ability and a decent eight points in 16 games for Reign.
Returning to her rivals this weekend, Carolina is left without top scorer Sebastian Aho, who played against the Kings earlier this season, due to COVID protocols. Defenders Tony DeAngelo, averaging nearly one point per game, and Brett Pesce have just dropped off the list, each of them scoring a point in their first game over Detroit since November 28.
Washington veteran Nicklas Backstrom made his season debut after recovering from a thigh injury and scored Ovechkin’s goal in the first period of a power play in overtime lost to Chicago on Wednesday. The Capitals will not have center Yevgeny Kuznetsov, who appears in the COVID protocols. He had two fights with the virus last season. Winger Tom Wilson is questionable with an upper body injury.
The multitude of moving figures did not bother Cap too much, especially since Ovechkin currently sits at the top of the NHL leaderboard in terms of points and second in terms of goals. The Caps will face Winnipeg on Friday ahead of the Kings encounter, and Ovechkin’s next goal will be overwhelmingly past Dave Andreichuk as the NHL’s career leader in goal-by-player lead.
KINGS IN CAROLIN
When: Saturday, 16.00
Where: PNC Arena
TV / Radio: Bally Sports West / iHeartRadio
KOROLEV IN WASHINGTON
When: Sunday, 16.00
Where: Capital one arena
TV / Radio: Bally Sports West / iHeartRadio