Thank the Lord, Willie Mitchell's back. The rugged defenseman is finally back from a broken wrist and holy hell have the Kings missed him. Mitchell was great at the beginning of the season, serving as a calming influence on the entire team. He never runs around, he never gets too high or too low; he and Rob Scuderi are the old hounds to the young pups (said pups being Drew Doughty & Jack Johnson).
One key change tonight is going to be that there isn't a key change tonight; Doughty will not be paired back with Mitchell but will instead continue to be paired with Scuderi. I like the move on the surface because Doughty-Scuderi have been great from a defensive standpoint and I think Mitchell's defensive style will work better with Jack Johnson. For those keeping track:
-Matt Greene doesn't really work with Johnson because he's not positionally sound enough and gets caught out of position when Johnson doesn't cover his man'
-Scuderi doesn't really work with Johnson because primarily a positional defenseman and isn't really strong enough 1-on-1 to cover for Johnson;
-Peter Harrold doesn't really work withJohnson because he sucks.
Mitchell is kind of a blend of the 2, a positional defenseman that is still very strong 1-on-1. Basically Jack Johnson sucks at defense because he just fucking stands there instead of doing anything but Mitchell is probably our best defenseman in the defensive zone so hopefully he can cover for him. Doughty works with everyone because he's a good defenseman so why not keep him with Scuderi. I don't know, we'll see how it works.
One interesting thing I noticed in the last game against Detroit was the fact that Terry Murray chose to throw Anze Kopitar out against Pavel Datsyuk's line a vast majority of the time. I think Murray's logic was that while Kopitar may struggle against Datsyuk's smarts and slipperiness, Datsyuk might struggle against Kopitar's physical superiority. This actually worked in that game, as Kopitar outscored Datsyuk's line 2-1 in the game. It'll be interesting to see if Mike Babcock goes for the same match-up or if he tries to get Datsyuk out against Stoll or Handzus instead.
Prediction: Kings win, 4-3. Goals by Doughty, Moller, Brown and Williams.