KINGS @ MINNESOTA GAME PREVIEW
Tonight is the Kings’ first game of the season on the national stage.
Be sure to tune in to the Versus network at 5pm for the game as it will not be on FSN.
Time to show North America what hockey in Los Angeles is all about.
So what’s so Wild about Minnesota?
Well, we all know their fans have a proclivity to pissing off the opponent. That’s not fair. Its just because Rypien is a moron. Or if you believe in karma you can go another way with that thought…
Nevertheless, should their fans be worried about the Kings’ arrival to Xcel Energy Center? Yes, but not for fear of physical harm to their person. Their fear, if properly placed, should be in anticipation of emotional turmoil as the Kings look to drop Minnesota (3-3-1) below the .500 mark.
There is something for the Kings to fear as well; Minnesota’s powerplay.
Clicking at a ridiculous 38.7%, if there is one team that can slow down the Wild’s steamroller of a man advantage it is the Kings and their 87.9% penalty kill. I’m no mathemtician, but I believe that’s what we call a good matchup.
The other concerns are that Matt Cullen and Mikko Koivu are scoring at over a point-per-game and Guillaume Latendresse has a 30% shooting percentage. Considering these three play on two different lines, Terry Murray has his work cut out for him trying to get the Greene-Mitchell pairing out against the Wild’s top offensive weapons. This means that either Davis Drewiske needs to watch the turnovers (which he should do anyways) or Jack Johnson needs to play his best defense of the season so far. One of these two mental lapse junkies will be out there against one or two Minnesota’s scorers for the majority of the game.
One man who won’t be out there is Brayden Schenn, as he is scratched in lieu of Andrei Loktionov on the 4th line. Kyle Clifford will take Brad Richardson’s spot as 4th line LW, while Richie reaps the benefits of his hat trick last game with a full 60 minutes playing alongside Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown.
Cam Barker will not play for the Wild due to injury. Taking his place is Clayton Stoner.
To be honest, I haven’t seen much of the Wild yet this season, so keys to the game in terms of match-up are a bit tough to call. Staying out of the box is always a good idea, but tonight that mantra should be emblazoned in the Kings’ minds more than most nights. Though we loved what we saw against C0lorado (who doesn’t love a 60 minute, up and down, high scoring action-fest? Coaches, that’s who), the Kings’ are not built to be that type of team and against Minnesota my gut tells me the Kings need to get back to a suffocating shutdown game of cycling and heavy hitting dot-to-board play. They can open up and skate with the best of them, sure, but the season’s success will rise and fall on the defense. Time to win another game 2-1 or 3-1, no more of this 3 or 4 goals against business.
Jonathan Quick will get the start in net.
Unfortunately I won’t be able to watch this game until tomorrow, so I’m counting on all of you to provide some nice visualized prose commentary that I can check from my phone.
GO KINGS GO!