LA Kings (18-20-7) @ Colorado Avalanche (23-22-1)
6:00 PST, Fox Sports West
Johnson Watch: 17:44 TOI, 0 P, +2, 2 PIM, 2 Special Team Shifts (PK)
You ever just get the feeling that a game is going to be wild? The Kings and the Avalanche have played two games this season: one was a tightly-checked and rough contest that saw the Avalanche prevail in a shootout, while the other was an embarrassing loss for the Kings as they fell, 6-1. In the first game, John Zeiler knocked Adam Foote out for a while with a brutal check from behind; in the second game, TJ Hensick knocked Derek Armstrong out for a while with a hit to the head. The Kings have been looking for an opportunity to come together as a team and I think tonight is going to provide it. Plus, this is probably the last game Kevin Westgarth is going to get for a while and I imagine he wants to make the most of it. Plus, this is the 1st game Jack Johnson will play against Colorado since he decapitated Ryan Smyth and maybe they still might want a little revenge for that. Plus... well, no, that's it. The Avalanche have a lot of guys that can hit and fight, as do the Kings, and I imagine tonight is going to get a little rough.
The Kings have pretty much decided that grit is better than talent for now and have banished guys like Ted Purcell and Brian Boyle in favor of guys like Raitis Ivanans, John Zeiler and Kevin Westgarth. The weirdest thing? The grit guys played great last night. Seriously, Kyle Calder had his best game since he joined the Kings, John Zeiler was hitting people in a meaningful way, Raitis had a couple good moves... hell, even Sean O'Donnell made a few good moves on offense. The Kings haven't been getting good play from their 4th line this season and it has cost them in a lot of games (the last game against Colorado is a great example), but those guys played great last night. If they can keep it up then a lot of space will be opened for the Kings' top guys.
If the Kings go to a shootout tonight, they're fucked. The Kings have played in 7 shootouts and have a record of 2-5. Colorado is 7-1. Of course, Jonathan Quick (who will probably start tonight) looks to be an excellent shootout goaltender, so maybe the Kings' luck can change.
Prediction: Kings win, 4-3 (SO). Hey, they have to win one eventually. Mile High Hockey has your Avalanche perspective, which I imagine is as follows: "I'm cold."