Two first-place teams battle in Hollywood.

Tampa Bay Lightning at Los Angeles Kings: GAME# 17

Time: 10:30 pm Eastern Time

Location: Staples Center

Broadcast/Streaming: SunS, FSW

Opponent SBNation Site: Jewels from the Crown

Preview:

While it’s too early to scream STANLEY CUP PREVIEW, tonight’s match-up between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Los Angeles Kings is a nice meeting between two teams that are riding quite high these days. Not only are they both off to hot starts, they share some other similarities.

  • First place in their division – check

The Kings have finally passed the surprising Vegas Golden Knights to claim first place in the Pacific Division. A 7-2-1 run in their last 10 games have helped them open up a 5-point lead on the upstart expansion club. The Lightning have a 6-point lead on Toronto and have also won 7 of their last 10 games.

  • High-priced veteran center having a bounce back year – check

Part of the reason for the Kings’ success lies in Anze Kopitar regaining his form. After being held to only 52 points last season, the veteran center is pacing Los Angeles with 19 points in his first 15 games. Dustin Brown has also dug his scoring touch out of the La Brea Tar Pits where it’s been buried for the last couple of seasons. His 15 points is almost half as many as he had all of last year.

  • Norris-caliber defender – check

While it must be nice to see them score (51 goals is good for 7th in the league) their bread and butter remains defense. A defense led by Drew Doughty and goaltender Jonathan Quick. Quick’s .937 save percentage is the best of his career and his 2.06 goals against is good for second in the league (not that that means anything against the Lightning who just roughed up Martin Jones and his GAA).

Meanwhile, Doughty is playing 27 minutes a game, has 10 points, and has a 52% corsi despite starting less than half of his shifts in the offensive zone. And the Lightning have Victor Hedman.

  • Rookie player contributing more than expected – check

The Lightning also have Mikhail Sergachev (and technically Yanni Gourde) while the Kings have Adrian Kempe. The 2014 first-round pick has seven goals in fifteen games and has provided some youthful offense for a rapidly aging team.

  • Defensemen named “Jake” – check

Jake Muzzin and Jake Dotchin of course.

  • Veteran player that doesn’t quite look right in their current uniform – check

Lets face it. Even after sixteen games it’s still weird to see Chris Kunitz in a Lightning uniform, right? He’s playing his role on the fourth line and providing veteran leadership (watch how calmly he hands Stamkos the water bottle) but it’s still not right. The same goes for Brooks Laich in a Kings uniform.

Los Angeles Kings v Montreal Canadiens
Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

The Lightning will need to keep the offense going against the Kings. The good news about the big win against San Jose is that Coach Cooper was able to spread out the playing time a little bit, but still it’s going to be tough for them to come back in 24 hours and take on a tough, physical Los Angeles team.

Comparison chart:

Yeah, you should know by now that I’m not going to ask @loserpoints to come up with a chart. How about a Wayne Gretzky commercial from the 90s?

I demand Pepsi sign Steven Stamkos to a deal just to film an updated rebuttal to this advertisement.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines

Vladislav Namestnikov – Steven Stamkos – Nikita Kucherov

Ondrej Palat – Brayden Point – Yanni Gourde

Chris Kunitz – Tyler Johnson – Ryan CallahanA

lex Killorn – Gabriel Dumont – JT Brown (? – might be out for 11/7)

Defense Pairings

Victor Hedman – Jake Dotchin

Mikhail Sergachev – Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn – Dan Girardi

Slater Koekkoek

Lineup notes: Coach Cooper likes to swap out some players on his bottom lines on back-to-back games. So Dumont might be in for Brown tonight. Normally Koekkoek would be swapped out for Sustr, but with the big man being stapled to the bench against Columbus and Koekkoek finding the back of the net in San Jose, Slater might have earned another start.

Goaltenders

Peter Budaj

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Los Angeles Kings lines

Forward Lines

Alex Iafallo – Anze Kopitar – Dustin Brown

Tanner Pearson – Adrian Kempe – Tyler Toffoli

Mike Cammalleri – Nick ShoreTrevor Lewis

Andy Andreoff – Brooks Laich –Michael Amadio

Defense Pairings

Derek Forbort – Drew Doughty

Jake Muzzin – Alec Martinez

Kurtis MacDermidOscar Fantenberg

Goalies

Jonathan Quick

Darcy Kuemper


Article first appeared on www.draysbay.com