The Los Angeles Kings (15-11-5) lost their last game, and if their recent trend tells us anything, a win is coming tonight. The Buffalo Sabres (12-14-2) are coming off two straight losses and have struggled this season. But they can't be taken lightly.
Pheonix Copley is expected to start tonight following another rough performance from Jonathan Quick Sunday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Copley's .927 save percentage and 1.4 goals saved above expected is a big improvement on Quick's numbers. And another strong performance tonight would have to put him in the conversation for taking the number-one spot in net.
Yes, his good numbers have come in just two games, both against non-playoff teams. But the Kings are desperate for an improvement in net. Things can't get worse by giving Copley a look as the number one and three strong performances in a row should give him that opportunity.
There were two other apparent lineup changes according to Kings Insider Zach Dooley. Drew Doughty "should be good to go" according to Todd McLellan. Jordan Spence was recalled from Ontario yesterday and might draw into the lineup, but with Doughty healthy, it doesn't seem likely.
The other lineup change is Viktor Arvidsson's replacement, who's on non-roster player status right now. I discussed the options to replace Arvidsson yesterday, and to my surprise, none of those options were chosen. Jaret Anderson-Dolan appears to be Arvidsson's replacement next to Trevor Moore and Phil Danault.
I understand not breaking up the third line after their strong game against Columbus Sunday, but I don't understand promoting Anderson-Dolan over Samuel Fagemo. Fagemo is a better stylistic replacement for Arvidsson and impressed in his two-game cameo during the Kings' last homestand. Fagemo has two fewer points in 14 fewer games than Anderson-Dolan. I'd be frustrated if I was Fagemo.
The Kings will have to keep an extra eye on Sabres star center Tage Thompson, who has followed up his breakout 38-goal campaign last season by ascending to top-10 center status. Fourth in the league in points and third in goals, Thompson is on a tear.
Expected Los Angeles Kings Lines:
Kevin Fiala-Anze Kopitar-Arthur Kaliyev
Trevor Moore-Phil Danault-Jaret Anderson-Dolan
Alex Iafallo-Adrian Kempe-Gabe Vilardi
Carl Grundstrom-Blake Lizotte-Samuel Fagemo
Mikey Anderson-Drew Doughty
Sean Durzi-Matt Roy
Tobias Bjornfot-Sean Walker
Expected Buffalo Sabres Lines:
Casey Mittelstadt-Tage Thompson-Alex Tuch
JJ Peterka-Dylan Cozens-Jack Quinn
Rasmus Asplund-Tyson Jost-Victor Oloffson
Zemgus Girgensons-Peyton Krebs-Kyle Okposo
Mattias Samuelsson-Rasmus Dahlin
Owen Power-Jacob Bryson
Kale Clague-Casey Fitzgerald
Los Angeles Kings Power Play: 26-108, 24.07%, 11th in NHL
Los Angeles Kings Penalty Kill: 29-102, 71.57%, 26th in NHL
Buffalo Sabres Power Play: 30-107, 28.04%, 4th in NHL
Buffalo Sabres Penalty Kill: 28-95, 70.53%, 28th in NHL
Los Angeles Kings Pre-Game Notes:
- The LA Kings have scored 32 first-period goals this season. Only Vegas (35) and Buffalo (34) have scored more.
- The Kings scored five-plus goals for the 10th time this season Sunday, trailing only Boston (11) and Dallas (11) for the most five-goal games among all teams.
- Blake Lizotte tallied his sixth goal of the season Sunday night in Columbus for his fourth point in the last five games (1-3=4).
- Matt Roy leads all Kings defensemen in shots with 56.
- Anze Kopitar has a team-leading five goals in the month of December, which is tied for fifth-most in the league, and sits two behind Buffalo’s Tage Thompson (7) and Edmonton’s Connor McDavid (7).
How to Watch:
TV: Bally Sports West, ESPN+; Radio: iHeartRadio