Tampa Bay Lightning at Los Angeles Kings: Two teams, both alike in ability
Two first-place teams battle in Hollywood.
Time: 10:30 pm Eastern Time
Location: Staples Center
Broadcast/Streaming: SunS, FSW
Opponent SBNation Site: Jewels from the Crown
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.
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.
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
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)
Victor Hedman – Jake Dotchin
Mikhail Sergachev – Anton Stralman
Braydon Coburn – Dan Girardi
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.
Los Angeles Kings lines
Alex Iafallo – Anze Kopitar – Dustin Brown
Derek Forbort – Drew Doughty
Jake Muzzin – Alec Martinez
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