Deep breaths, everyone. No Dion Phaneuf and the 20-7-4 Los Angeles Kings are coming into town.
The Kings are a heavy forechecking team and are going to seal the boards on the Leafs all night. The key to beating a good forecheck is going to be quick puck movement, effective use of the D to D pass, and available forward support on the breakout. Without that, this Kings team will hem the Leafs in with sustained zone time, bring fresh legs into the cycle, and grind them down all night. Blowout win over the Canadiens last night aside, the Kings haven’t been an explosive offensive team (18th in goals for, bottom 10 before last night), but give up so little in the way of shots and goals (fewest in the league with 62) because they win the possession battle night after night.
Randy Carlyle would be wise to play to a strength and put to use all of the mobility and puck moving available to him on defence.
The Kings are in the second half of the back to back and will play goaltending Martin Jones again tonight coming off of his shutout at the Bell Centre. The Professor has been snubbed of a crack at his former team. In Darryl Sutter’s defence, Jones is 3-0 with a .62 goals against average in his first three starts in the NHL.
Jonathan Bernier will play against his former team and may have to steal one for the victory.
Joffrey Lupul will make his return on a good looking third line tonight.
JVR – Kadri- Kessel
Raymond – Smith – Clarkson
Lupul – Holland – Kulemin
McLaren/D’Amigo- McClement - Ashton
Gunnarsson – Franson
Gardiner – Liles
Fraser – Ranger