Preview #14: Predators visit Southern California in back-to-back contests
Nashville Predators 7-4-2
Los Angeles Kings 6-5-3
The Predators will try to extend their points streak to six games when they face the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night before entering the Honda Center for what will no doubt be a physical rematch to October 29th’s 3-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks.
After Monday night’s contest, the Los Angeles Kings are now losers of five straight games. With so much anticipation and expectation at the start of the season, it is surprising to see the Kings struggling as of late. But, if there is a team the Kings think they can beat, one has to assume it would be the Predators. Last year, the Kings took the series 3-1.
It would be a surprise to see Jonathan Quick in goal on Tuesday night. Backup goaltenders often play one game in back-to-back contests, and the Kings backup, Jonathan Bernier, has Nashville’s number. Despite an 0-2 record to start this season, fans of the Kings will expect Bernier to come up big against the Predators. In 5 games played, Bernier is 4-1 with a 1.80 GAA and a .940 save percentage against the Predators.
Nashville will be looking for their third straight victory and know they will be facing a tired team with L.A. playing in San Jose the night before. But the Predators will not need to rely on low energy to beat the Kings. Nashville has been playing solid hockey as of late with a 2-0-1 record on this year’s CMA road trip.
First, without Sergei Kostitsyn, Mike Fisher or Nick Spaling, the Predators got a point in Chicago, then shutout Phoenix 3-0 on the day Pekka Rinne signed his 7-year contract extension. On Saturday, without Kevin Klein, Spaling or Kostitsyn in the lineup, the Predators had a come-from-behind win in San Jose, in overtime. David Legwand scored his fourth and fifth goals of the season and now has 14 points in 13 games. It seems like Nashville is playing playoff hockey, in November.
Star defenseman Drew Doughty is out for the Kings with an upper body injury. Colin Fraser is out of the lineup indefinitely after having surgery on his ankle. It is not yet known whether Klein, Kostitsyn or Spaling will be back in the lineup for the Predators.
As with many games in the NHL, which team becomes the victor will likely come down to who wins the battle of special teams. However, the special teams of Nashville and Los Angeles mirror each other very closely.
The Predators have allowed two power-play goals on 23 chances in the last seven games. The team ranks 9th in the League at 87.3 percent kill-off rate. The Predators are even better on the road at 88.4 percent. Los Angeles has a potent power play and, going into Monday night’s games, sit 8th in the League with a 20% success rate. At home, however, the Kings are just shy of 16% success rate.
Usually in the bottom 10 in power play percentage, Nashville sits 16th in the League so far this season at 17.4 percent success rate. The Predators power play on the road is slightly better than at home at 18.5 percent. Nashville has scored 5 power play goals on the road in 27 power play chances. Whereas the Predators penalty kill is 9th best in the NHL, the Kings are right behind with the 10th best penalty kill in the League at 87 percent kill-off rate.
Which team has the advantage might be hard to say, but it is interesting to note that Los Angeles is the only team the Predators have a winning record against on the road (13-8-(0)-3) but a losing record against at home (8-13-(3)-0).
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