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We Are All On Drugs: Blues At LA Kings Preview

The Blues LAst Stop Is In The Land Of Make Believe. The Challenge Is Real, Though.

"I came in like... a Czech-ing Ball..."
"I came in like... a Czech-ing Ball..."
Jeff Gross

Well, we can't say we weren't warned - the Sharks are a good team, and they won. The Blues can't dwell on that too much, because the next team is pretty darn tough, too. The Blues travel south from the Bay Area to make their last stop on this road trip in Los Angeles. The Kings are a consistently tough team, but are known to go cold for streaks also. They always seem up to the challenge when facing the Blues, though. Needless to say, a win here would help right the ship, and also be very cathartic for us fans. This is the perfect situation for a rebound game.

On November 13, the Kings placed Jonathan Quick on IR with a groin strain. Groins being tricky things, it's not certain when he'll back - the original prognosis is that he'd be out until late December. When I first read the news, I thought the Blues might have caught a break - at least he'd be out for the 12/02 game (to include the next matchup, 01/02/14, would be optimistic). Quick is a large part of how the Kings eliminated the Blues these past two postseasons. Whew, at least we won't have to worry about him! That's an automatic advantage for the Blues.

So, backup goaltender Ben Scrivens posts 2 shutouts in his first three games after the Quick injury, and now leads the league in Save Percentage at .944 and is tied for 2nd in GAA at 1.52. Since inheriting the starter role, he's gone 5-1-3.

So ... yeah ....

Oh, it gets worse.... if you take the #FancyStats into consideration (and really, why shouldn't it be at least part of the picture?), you can see why LA is able to hold their own in the tough tough Pacific Division: by holding onto the puck. As of Sunday evening, if you go to Behind the Net or Extra Skater, 5 of the top 8 players in the entire NHL in terms of Corsi and Fenwick at 5v5 play are LA Kings. That's damn impressive. Those 5 players are Justin Williams, Jake Muzzin, Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, and rookie Tyler Toffoli. All of those are forwards, except Muzzin.

It's not all gloom and doom, though. Scrivens' one regulation loss came in LA's last game, a 2-1 loss to Calgary on Saturday night. In the 4 games prior to that, the Kings won only once, and eked out the loser charity point in OT or shootout losses the other 3 times. The Kings power play unit is 0-for-18 in the past 5 games. When the goaltending isn't putting up a shutout, the Kings seem to be scoring just enough goals to match their opponent. This all contributes to the LA "puck luck" stat, PDO, being below 1.000, despite doing a lot of "little things" right. They're simply not scoring right now. You'd have to be hitting the hash pipe say that this is an easy team to beat, but they do have vulnerabilities.

As for the more mundane stats, the overall points leader for the Kings is Kopitar, with 7 goals and 17 assists for 24 points. Mike Richards follows with 6G / 14A for 20 points. Next is the leading goal-scorer, Justin Williams, with 10G / 9A, and finally defenseman Drew Doughty with 5G / 8A. The rookies that you may not know, but will want to keep an eye on, are the aforementioned Toffoli and Linden Vey.

Further Reading:

Blues vs Kings coverage

Jewels From The Crown

Battle Of California

The Royal Half

All The Kings Men Podcast

(their last episode is only 23 minutes long)

Final Verse: We're still stuck on the west coast, so the opening faceoff is not until 9:30 PM St Louis time. The TV broadcast is again on Fox Sports MidWest, and the radio call is on KMOX 1120 AM. The GDT should drop shortly ahead of the puck. Until then, consider this your pregame warmup. Gather here, shake the cobwebs out of your head from your nap (especially for our European fans), put on a pot of coffee, and dream what it'd be like if the Blues had the Beverly Hills bandwagon that the Kings have ...

Weezer - Beverly Hills (via WeezerVEVO)