Los Angeles - October 23, 2014 -
Who: Los Angeles
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Know thine enemy: After an opening-night shellacking, the champs are picking up right where they left off, going 4-1-1 through their first half dozen games.
The surprise of the young season so far has been Tanner Pearson. After getting 25 games in with the Kings last year, the still-technically-a-rookie has come out like a house of fire with five goals and seven points in his first six games. Tyler Toffoli and Jeff Carter are also off to wonderful starts with three goals apiece with seven and six points respectively. After that, it’s a struggle. Despite the strong effort from that trio, the Kings still rank 24th in the NHL in goals per game with 2.33 per. This has been a trend in recent years for the Kings.
On the back end, Jake Muzzin will return to help shore up the blueline in the absence of Slava Voynov. The Kings also have one of the best defensemen in the game in Drew Doughty back there, so it’s going to be tough sledding for the Sabres regardless of who else suits up.
Jonathan Quick has rebounded nicely after getting yanked in the opener, posting 3-1-1 record with a 1.86 GAA and .951 save percentage so far this season. Needless to say, the Kings rank near the top of the league in goals against per game, allowing just 1.67 per contest.
About the Sabres: This group is awful and there’s really nothing more to say than that, but since I’m supposed to write a little more here, I will.
The story has been the same in every game for the Sabres: fail to control the puck, give up a ton of shots while hardly generating any of their own, barely possess the puck in the offensive zone, get killed unless one of the goalies plays his nards off.
The only reason this isn’t maddening is because of what lay at the end of the tank rainbow.
The part where I predict things: When you can’t score goals or possess the puck, any matchup is a nightmare, but going up against a Kings team that is actually really good at keeping the puck out of their net, this is the nightmare situation for the Sabres. Expect under 20 shots as the Kings dominate time of possession and give the Sabres no easy zone entries.
On the other side of the coin, look for the Kings to generate at least 35 shots, getting a few prime opportunities taken away from them by Jhonas Enroth. In the end, none of this will matter because the Kings will have the puck for so long that they won’t even really need to score.
Score: 3-0 Kings
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