Interstate-5 and out
Time for a tune-up. Sputtering to start, the Kings must now find their identity in hostile confines.
The Grammy Awards have pushed the Kings out of their home building, something they’ve become annually accustomed to.
You’ll identify the Kings by their white sweaters for the next three weeks.
A lengthy tour away from Los Angeles is in store. The Kings embark on a five-game road trip, starting tonight in Orange County against the Anaheim Ducks. Tonight’s contest calls for a quick, 45-minute trip along Intersate-5. Thereafter, the Kings are Midwest bound.
They’ll continue with visits to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Nashville Predators, Detroit Red Wings, and finish off against the St. Louis Blues before returning to Staples Center for a quick one-game stint against the Columbus Blue Jackets on February 15th.
Don’t get comfortable with that visit, the Kings will round-up and head out for another three-game roady after February 15th’s affair. The Kings play seven of their next eight contests on the road.
There’s an early challenge for you.
Sometimes, though, you find your true self away from home.
Duck Hunt: Tonight’s date with the Anaheim Ducks will be the first of four between the two Pacific Division rivals this season. As the Kings continue to find their feet, the Ducks have been rolling in feat.
Anaheim is off to an astounding 4-1-1 record, coming off of a 3-1 win against the Minnesota Wild last night at Honda Center. In fact, one of Anaheim’s only slips this season came in a 3-2 shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks, who are atop the Pacific Division and entire NHL with an undefeated 7-0-0 record.
The Kings owned the Anaheim Ducks last season, however. In their six contests against the Ducks last year, the Kings went 5-1-0. All six contests were decided by one or two goals, including two of which were decided in a shootout.
Production on the offensive end will need to be discovered tonight by the Kings, who have mocked their scoring struggles which plagued this team much of last season. The Kings, through their first six games, have scored just 11 regulation goals.
This comes to an average of 1.77 goals per game, which places the Kings at 29th in the NHL in scoring, only ahead of the Nashville Predators – who the Kings played on Thursday night. Both clubs represented their statistics in true form Thursday, riding a 1-1 stalemate into an 8-round shootout, which the Kings lost.
Talk about struggling to score.
Well, there’s more, unfortunately. A vital factor to offensive success in the NHL is powerplay output. A 6.1% isn’t going to cut it. That percentage may look better than the fraction here. Out of the 33 Kings’ powerplay opportunities, they’ve scored just two times.
Finding the net will be crucial tonight in Anaheim, because Jonathan Quick can’t be dependant to bail you out every single night.
Call on Me?
Berning to play: We’re bound to see it happen at some point on this road-trip, but not tonight. Jonathan Quick will get the start in net for the Kings as Jonathan Bernier rides the pine yet again. Quick started for the Kings in all six contests against the Ducks last season.
Bernier hasn’t started a game since March 31st, 2012 – in which he made 20 saves in a 4-3 OT loss to the Minnesota Wild. The Kings’ backup goaltender started a grand total of 13 games last year – that surely ain’t every day playing.
With the whacky shortened schedule the Kings are dealing with, while taking into consideration the precautions needed to keep Jonathan Quick 100% healthy from his offseason back surgery, Bernier should get at least a handful of calls from coach Darryl Sutter this season.
13 games is pushing it, though.
I’d expect Bernier to start Tuesday night in Columbus, Ohio.
In Jonathan Bernier‘s 48 career NHL starts with the Kings, he’s faced the Anaheim Ducks just twice. The latest came on December 26, 2010, where Bernier made 18 saves in a 4-1 Kings victory at Staples Center.
Bernier’s other start against Anaheim was his NHL debut in October of 2007 in London, England at that season’s European NHL Premiere series. 19 years-old at the time, Jonathan Bernier introduced himself to the league with a stalwart performance.
The Ducks, who were playing their first game since winning the Stanley Cup in the spring of 2007, were nearly shutout by the young Bernier. He stopped 26 of Anaheim’s 27 shots, bringing home a 4-1 win for the Kings.
Another King has had his “first” against the Anaheim Ducks.
Say Hey, Anze
No Love Lost
Final Notes: Kyle Clifford, who has been skating with the Kings’ second-line, could return to play alongside Colin Fraser and Jordan Nolan on the fourth-line tonight.
Dustin Penner is expected to return to the Kings’ lineup, after being a healthy scratch for the previous four contests. He should be alongside Mike Richards and Jeff Carter on the second-line.
Puck drops at 7:00PM PST against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center.