The Washington Capitals are enjoying sunny southern California and tonight they meet the Pacific Division second place team—the Los Angeles Kings. We will be looking for some consistency in the lines now that Trotz’s Boyz have had a few games to settle into a new rhythm.
The Kings have been fighting the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks (SJS) for first place in the division. The Ducks have a narrow lead with one point after an OT loss to the Caps on Monday. The Sharks are two points behind and the Caps meet them Saturday night. Given the in-division fighting, the league-leading Caps should expect a tough game as the Kings want to be the sole owners of the Pacific.
The Caps, though secure in their lead, can’t become complacent at this stage of the game. So far they have two OT wins on this road trip. They need a couple more regulation wins to get back in the winning grove we saw before the snowstorm and All-Star game slowed their momentum.
Philipp Grubauer was in the net when the Kings visited Washington in February and he made an amazing 39 saves to bring a 3-1 win over LA. In that match up, Andre Burakovsky, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Jason Chimera recorded goals.
- Justin Williams has been inspiring the Caps players in and out of the locker room. He, along with Mike Richards, make their first return to LA since they left the team. Both are likely to leave their mark on their former teammates before the night is over.
- Brooks Oprik made his injury comeback during the last game against the Kings and also earned his first assist since returning.
- Expect Braden Holtby in the net tonight. He is coming off his 41st win of the season in Anaheim, seven shy of New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur’s all-time record 48 wins in 2006-2007.
LA Kings Pregame
The Kings are one of the most cohesive playing teams in the league. It is a thing of beauty to watch their line changes, their ability to read one another, and their power on the ice. That means the Caps need to find a way to undermine this multiple Stanley Cup winning team. Staples Center is always full of energy and the Caps will need to keep those voices out of the their heads on the ice. Kings made some line changes on Monday night which helped edge out the Canucks.
- Anze Kopitar scored a short-handed goal against the Caps in February. He is one of the most versatile and powerful players on the Kings team. He leads the team in points at 58.
- Milan Lucic has found new life, recording two goals against the Canucks, bringing his NHL career total goals to 300. He was moved from center to left wing for that run. Meanwhile, Tyler Troffoli has been quiet in his last five game with zero points.