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Kings at Blues Preview: Veteran leadership coming on strong for LA

While the Blues are dropping like flies, the older Kings are stepping up.

Los Angeles Kings v St Louis Blues Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images

The Kings aren’t known for their youth movement, but that hasn’t been a problem this season. They’re on a five game winning streak, and it’s because of players who have won with the team before.

You could be forgiven for wondering what year it is when you look at the stats for the Kings’ team leaders:

I didn’t think that there would ever be a Dustin Brown renaissance, yet here we are.

These vets have strung up a solid bit of work against the Blues, especially Monday night. The Blues dropped the game 3-0, and Carl Gunnarsson’s injury proved to be a season ender. The Blues have had special teams issues all season, and now they’re having problems scoring at five-on-five, and the Kings made them pay.

LA is not a bad team. They outclass both of the Blues’ special teams (11th ranked PP vs. 26th; 9th ranked PK vs. 26th). They score more goals than the Blues per game, and they allow fewer. The Blues and their fans can’t fall into the narrative trap of “we should beat them,” and the way that the Blues’ season is going, it would be surprising if they fell into that trap tonight.

It’s tough to get a handle on what kind of team the Blues are, because the Blues are barely themselves. On top of Gunnarsson being on the IR for the rest of the season, there’s Vladimir Tarasenko, Robert Thomas, Ivan Barbashev, and Tyler Bozak. Out of all of those players, the only one even remotely close to a return is Bozak, and he’s still recovering from an assumed concussion.

Jaden Schwartz and Colton Parayko are also day to day, but if Parayko has a long-term back injury, that could change.

The standings don’t care about injuries, though, and none of this is an excuse. The Kings won’t take it easy on the Blues just because half of the taxi squad is starting tonight. They certainly won’t take it easy on the team when the remaining players, such as Zach Sanford, show sloppy play and poor situational awareness. The Kings have every right to pounce, and they will tonight.

It’s going to take three periods of sucking it up tonight for the Blues to win, and we have seen that resiliency from the team before. It’ll have to come from everyone, regardless of talent or status, or else the Kings will be riding a six game winning streak after tonight.