The LA Kings dropped the first meeting between these two teams in Nashville 2-1 back in October in what was Viktor Arvidsson‘s return to Bridgestone Arena. Now, Todd McLellan’s group will look to cool off a Predators club that has gone 8-1-1 over their last ten games.
Tale of the Tape
LAK: 17.0% (23rd)
NSH: 25.8% (6th)
LAK: 75.5% (26th)
NSH: 82.3% (10th)
LAK: 53.6% (6th)
NSH: 50.3% (14th)
Goals per game:
LAK: 2.70 (24th)
NSH: 3.03 (15th)
Goals against per game:
LAK: 2.67 (10th)
NSH: 2.65 (8th)
LAK: Anze Kopitar – 9 goals, 20 assists, 29 points
Here are five things to keep an eye on tonight:
1. Cal Petersen back in net?
The Notre Dame alum’s last game between the pipes was way back on December 6 in a 4-0 loss in Vancouver. Cal Petersen watched a red-hot Jonathan Quick get five consecutive starts before entering COVID protocol. Now back with the team for the last ten days, Petersen would appear to be in line for his first start in a month.
Head coach Todd McLellan has not hinted toward either guy just yet. Cal looked primed for a start last Saturday against the Flyers, but McLellan indicated he wanted to give Cal a few more practices before throwing him back into the mix.
Is four more days enough time? We’ll see.
Petersen has just two previous starts against the Nashville Predators, owning a .918 SV% and 3.09 GAA.
2. Martin Frk at RW1 and PP1
With Carl Grundstrom going into COVID protocol on Wednesday, Martin Frk was elevated from extra skater to the LA Kings’ top line in Wednesday’s practice. McLellan confirmed that the 28-year-old would get the nod at RW1 and play a significant role in the team’s first powerplay unit.
— LA Kings (@LAKings) February 21, 2020
“Really good opportunity for him,” Todd McLellan said, of Frk, via LA Kings Insider. “He’s again proven in the American League that he’s an elite player there. He’s going to get his opportunity here, he’ll get time with Kopi to start with, he’s going to get powerplay time and those are all areas that he should excel in. Let’s hope that he takes advantage of it, I believe that he can, and he finds a way to stay.”
Frk has played great in the AHL with the Ontario Reign this season, tallying 14 goals and 29 points, including six goals on the man advantage.
3. Roman Josi on the powerplay
The Nashville Predators’ powerplay has been a strength this season, mainly due to the play of former Norris Trophy winner Roman Josi. The Predators defenseman has a combined 11 goals and 30 points in 32 games played, including six goals on the man advantage.
Josi needs just two goals to set a career-high in powerplay goals, and he looks primed to shatter that mark.
The 31-year-old has a bomb of a shot from the blueline, and the Predators are so good at putting a body in front of the goalie. Needless to say, the Kings will need to limit the number of trips to the penalty box and kill off every opportunity.
Pinpoint accuracy from Roman Josi 🎯 pic.twitter.com/Rf6gPgFYbs
— Bally Sports: Preds (@PredsOnBally) December 17, 2021
4. Predators penalty kill
Similarly, Nashville penalty kill has complemented the team’s powerplay quite well, as both units rank in the top-10 in the league. Last year, the Predators PK ranked third-worst in the National Hockey League at a 75.6 percent kill rate.
The team responded well to Preds head coach John Hynes’ frustration that nearly boiled over last February when he said he had addressed the penalty kill issues with his team “for the last time.”
It wasn’t always pretty as Nashville had a rough stretch at the end of November and into the early part of December, allowing six goals on the man advantage in six games. Since then, though, Hynes’ club has allowed just one goal in their last 25 opportunities.
Hence, why the team has been so successful over the last ten games. The LA Kings’ struggling powerplay has their work cut out for them.
5. New-look third line
With four players in COVID protocol, the Kings have had to piece together parts of their roster. Per Wednesday’s practice, Los Angeles had Lias Andersson, Rasmus Kupari, and Dustin Brown round out the team’s third line. Brown just returned from COVID protocol himself, and he’s had a disappointing season thus far – I think it’s fair to admit that.
The former Kings captain, in the final year of his deal, has just four goals in 20 games. He’s also been a non-factor on the team’s powerplay.
Kupari had a solid start to the year, but his last point came on December 9; his last goal on December 5. Andersson has been great on the forecheck, and he brings a lot of tenacity to the lineup. He just isn’t a factor on offense.
Hopefully, the trio can get something going offensively because the Grundstrom-Turcotte-Kupari line played quite well in a limited sample size.
The LA Kings and Predators get underway from Crypto.com Arena at 7:30 PM PT.