Home sweet home.
After a dismal 1-2-1 road trip, the Los Angeles Kings (11-8-2) return to Crypto.com Arena, facing the New York Rangers (9-6-4).
Puck drops at 7:30.
Last week was a step back for the Kings, who stopped dead the momentum they built up on their 4-0 homestand. Todd McLellan has been using the word, "identity" a lot this season. Outside of their one win in Edmonton, the Kings never played to their identity on the road trip. They were loose defensively and, outside of Phil Danault's line, didn't forecheck with any conviction.
It's not just forechecking the Kings' forward lines struggled with either. Other than the Danault line, no one got going for the Kings' offense. After the defeat in Calgary, just one of the team's five goals came from a non-Danault line player. The top line in particular stalled out, scoring no points after the Calgary game, underlining a lengthy cold streak for them.
Because of this, McLellan is making changes again, reuniting Kevin Fiala with Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe. This line is great on paper but failed to impress early in the season. With Fiala now settled into the team, McLellan is hoping this line finds more success.
"When we brought him (Fiala) in, we brought him to play in that spot.," said McLellan. "We just had to settle some things down and get him fitting in and comfortable. He and I talked the other day, he said he feels way better about language, systems, structure and teammates, surroundings, so that’s a good sign."
This move will also have a big impact on Gabe Vilardi, who moves back to the third line.
"It helped Kevin and you get the third pair or you get the third line for the most part," said McLellan. "And if you get the job done, let’s face it, it’s an easier task for the most part, so hopefully that’ll help you. Gabe has played a lot of minutes, not double but significantly more, against tougher competition on a more consistent basis, from 21 games in 39 nights. Not an easy task."
The Kings' offense, which started the season so explosive, has gone cold and they need these new lines to work.
I feel like a broken record, but special teams will, once again, be a key factor in Tuesday's game. Boasting a top-five penalty kill and top-10 powerplay, the Rangers hold a big advantage in special teams over the LA Kings. The Rangers have also improved their five-on-five play from last season. Their 54.05% expected goals, 53.51% Corsi for and 54.55% Fenwick for are massive improvements on last season. With all of those statistics sitting at under 50% last season.
Staying out of the box will be key, but the Rangers will still pose a big threat at five-on-five.
Another x-factor will be Igor Shesterkin, the reigning Vezina trophy winner gives New York a massive edge in goal. Shesterkin's 6.1 goals saved above expected is 11 more than Cal Petersen's -5.1. With a .917 save percentage to Petersen's .880.
Los Angeles Kings Expected Lines:
Kevin Fiala-Anze Kopitar-Adrian Kempe
Trevor Moore-Phil Danault-Viktor Arvidsson
Carl Grundstrom-Blake Lizotte-Gabe Vilardi
Lias Andersson/Jaret Anderson-Dolan-Rasmus Kupari-Arthur Kaliyev
Mikey Anderson-Drew Doughty
Alex Edler-Matt Roy
Jacob Moverare-Sean Walker
New York Rangers Expected Lines Per PuckPedia.com:
Chris Kreider-Mika Zibanejad-Jimmy Vesey
Artemi Panarin-Vincent Trocheck-Barclay Goodrow
Alexis Lafreniere-Filip Chytil-Kaapo Kakko
Sammy Blais-Ryan Carpenter-Julien Gauthier
K'Andre Miller-Jacob Trouba
Ryan Lindgren-Adam Fox
Zac Jones-Braden Schneider
Los Angeles Kings Power Play: 15-80, 18.75%, 24th in NHL
Los Angeles Kings Penalty Kill: 19-74, 74.32%, 27th in NHL
New York Rangers Power Play: 16-68, 23.53%, 9th in NHL
New York Rangers Penalty Kill: 10-59, 83.05, 4th in NHL
Los Angeles Kings Pre-Game Notes:
- The LA Kings are 7-3 in their last 10 games against the Rangers at Crypto.com Arena dating back to Dec. 18, 2008.
- Only the Florida Panthers (776) and New Jersey Devils (692) have put up more shots for than the Kings (682) this season.
- Carl Grundstrom’s 55 hits are tied for fourth-most among Western Conference forwards.
How to Watch:
TV: Bally Sports West, ESPN+; Radio: iHeartRadio