What: Detroit Red Wings at Los Angeles Kings
When: 10 p.m. tonight
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: Fox Sports Detroit, NBC Sports Network, TSN2
Records: The Red Wings are 9-7-3; the Kings are 9-6-2
Coaches: Mike Babcock is 430-224-19-86 in his tenth season as a head coach, and 361-162-71 in his eighth season with the Red Wings. Darryl Sutter is 440-335-101-41 in his 14th season as a head coach, including 34-19-13 in his second season with the Kings.
Season Series: The Red Wings lead 1-0.
Last Meeting: Jonathan Ericsson scored with 4.5 seconds remaining to give the Red Wings a 3-2 victory at Joe Louis Arena on February 10. Damien Brunner and Pavel Datsyuk each scored for the Red Wings, while Anze Kopitar and Alec Martinez scored for the Kings. Jimmy Howard made a season-high 45 saves on 47 shots.
Red Wings Update: The offense came to life for the Red Wings in a 8-3 rout of the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday. Brunner and Joakim Andersson each scored two goals, and Niklas Kronwall moved into the scoring lead among defensemen with his second consecutive three-point game. Henrik Zetterberg (25 points–6 goals, 19 assists), Datsyuk (22 points–8 goals, 14 assists), Brunner (16 points–10 goals, 6 assists), and Kronwall (16 points–2 goals, 14 assists) all pace the team in scoring. AHL call-ups Joakim Andersson and Tomas Tatar have played well too. The Wings will be without Valtteri Filppula (shoulder), Todd Bertuzzi (back), Darren Helm (back), Mikael Samuelsson (finger), and Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder). Johan Franzen (hip), Brendan Smith (shoulder), and Kyle Quincey (ankle) are expected to return tonight.
Kings Update: The Kings may have gotten over the Stanley Cup hangover after coming off of a 5-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Monday. Dustin Penner, Dustin Brown, Slava Voynov, Jake Muzzin, and Jeff Carter each scored a goal while Jonathan Quick finished with 24 saves. Kopitar (15 points–5 goals, 10 assists) and Carter (12 points–10 goals, 2 assists) are among the team's leaders in scoring. They will be without Martinez (upper body), Willie Mitchell (knee), and Matt Greene (back). The Kings also traded Simon Gagne to Philadelphia for a fourth-round pick yesterday.
PLAYER POSITION BREAKDOWN
Centers: Kopitar and Datsyuk are both very sound defensively, but Datsyuk has been better in the faceoff circle, winning 60% of his draws. Carter has seen action at center, and has been a 55% faceoff winner. Zetterberg could see action against Carter or Mike Richards. Andersson faired well against the Kings in the first meeting.
Edge: Slightly to the Red Wings
Wingers: Brown and Justin Williams are the Kings' top two wingers if Carter remains at center. Franzen's return should offset Filppula's absence on the top line, while Brunner will need to build off of a four-point outing on Sunday. Danny Cleary and Justin Abdelkader will be on the Wings' second line. Cleary has found his stride in the last two games. The Kings will likely put Dustin Penner and Kyle Clifford on their second line, but Clifford might be better on the third line. Tatar's speed could be a challenge for the Kings.
Edge: Red Wings
Defensemen: Both teams have been hit with injuries on the blue line this season. Kronwall has picked up his play for the Wings, but it's the returns of Smith and Quincey that could help the Wings. LA won't have Martinez, but youngsters Davis Drewiske, Muzzin, and Keaton Ellerby have played well. Drew Doughty has been in a similar funk to what Kronwall was in.
Goaltending: Quick (6-5-2, 2.42 GAA, .906 save percentage) has improved his numbers since the last meeting. The same can be said of Howard (8-6-2, 2.88 GAA, .901 save percentage). Howard has been a winner in his last two starts at Staples Center
Edge: Slightly to the Red Wings
Prediction: The Kings are over the Cup hangover, and are playing much better. The Wings have found some much needed offense, as they have jumped to fifth in the league in goals scored. This one could go on until 1:00 a.m. Eastern Time. This is the downfall of being in the Western Conference, but if the league has their way, we will see late night games twice a season. Break out the caffeinated beverages and be ready for another close one between these two
Make It: Red Wings 4, Kings 3 in a shootout.
Season Prediction Record:Tags: Detroit, Detroit Red Wings, Hockey, NHL