It’s been too long.
4 full days without Kings’ hockey.
You’d think that would have given me plenty of time to write a good game preview. You’d be wrong.
Restlessness feeds diversion and without Kings hockey, the mind wanders off into unknown distances. But now the wait is over and the Kings take on the Tampa Bay Lightning in a battle for NHL supremacy. The Bolts are the only other team to have 16 points (the same total as the Kings) after the first month of hockey. Though they possess one less win, their 16th point came by virtue of an overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks last night.
Steven Stamkos thinks he is hot stuff. Probably because he’s scoring more goals than Ovechkin and racking up the points at a Lemieux-like 1.82 point-per-game pace. The Kings, boasting a full blueline for the first time this season, look Stamkos straight in what looks like a face riddled with eczema and say “pfft.” Well, Scribe generally says “pfft” but I am borrowing said indignants here.
Stamkos is not without help as the Lighting have one of the better groups of top 6 forwards in the league. Behind Stamkos are Vincent Lecavalier, Ryan Malone, Steve Downie, Martin St. Louis and an injured Simon Gagne.
Guess who else is stepping on Staples Center Ice tonight?
If you said Randy Jones, you are correct and win the right to inflict upon him whatever verbal assault you deem fit. I am sure he is a nice guy. We don’t care. Scribe and I agree that for every three turnovers in a Kings’ uniform, he owes us one goal against the Lightning. That means, he owes us 128 goals…which translates to tonight’s final score of Kings 132 (we expect 4 goals to be unrelated to Jones) and Lightning 1. Simple math.
Also, tonight marks the return of cast-off, Teddy Purcell.
Scribe and I believe the keys to this game are: (1) Defense, (2) Defense and (3) Defense…our defense keeping their shots coming from the outside and giving them little to no lanes, our defense clearing rebounds and not giving up second chances (which presumes good goaltending as well) and our defense working a smooth transition game with quick first passes that break the puck out of our zone and to the forwards’ sticks. The latter will expose Tampa’s defense, where they are not nearly as talented as the forward lines.
Speed through the neutral zone and puck possession upon entry will be an important aspect of the game for both teams.
We will be there. We are excited.