Previewing the Los Angeles Kings' 2013-14 season:
Game 21 @ NY Rangers
November 17, 2013
4pm PST (7pm EST)
In what will be the second and final meeting between the two clubs, the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers will meet, this time at the historic and newly-renovated Madison Square Garden on Sunday evening.
The last time these two teams meant was during the regular season’s first week. Back on October 7, the Rangers won 3-1 at Staples Center in what was supposed to be the battle of the two best netminders. While the victory did give Alain Vigneault his first win as the Rangers’ bench boss, the game was overshadowed by a Jonathan Quick brain lapse leading him to allow an embarrassing goal.
With that, there didn’t seem to be much question who the better netminder was: Quick of New York’s Henrik Lundqvist. Furthermore, Quick’s mistake went viral causing him to be the brunt of jokes, mostly by pundits who wouldn’t know hockey if it slapped them upside the head. Nevertheless, a lot has changed since that game.
As of Saturday morning, the Kings are 13-6-1 while the Rangers are a ho-hum 9-9-0 with Lundqvist himself posting average numbers (6-7-0, 2.51 GAA, .915 save-percentage). Jonathan Quick, meanwhile, may be sidelined with a groin injury but Ben Scrivens has played admirably since being thrust in the goaltending spotlight. After making timely saves to help his team win on Thursday at Long Island, Scrivens shut the Devils out the very next night turning away all 26 shots he faced.
While he hasn’t played as much as Lundqvist has thus far, Scrivens has been impressive in the limited time he has seen the ice, going 3-1-1 with a 1.51 GAA and a .940 save-percentage to go along with two shutouts. While it’s not certain that head coach Darryl Sutter will go with No. 54 again on Sunday, chances are Scrivens will man the net once again while rookie Martin Jones remains awaiting his inevitable NHL debut.
Up front, the Kings are strong even though they haven’t been lighting up the lamp. Justin Williams and Anze Kopitar are the two veterans leading the way when the Kings do score. In the six games the Kings have played in November, both have registered points in five of them. As for the younger players, while they didn’t record any points versus the Devils on Friday, there is still a lot of excitement surrounding Tyler Toffoli, Tanner Pearson and Linden Vey. As far as the latter goes, while he was stopped by Cory Schneider, Vey made an outstanding defensive play en route to his team’s win by stealing the puck – while shorthanded – from a Devils defender before skating in on a partial breakaway. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the recent play of defenseman Jake Muzzin.
When the extent of Jonathan Quick’s injury was announced on Thursday, I suggested that Muzzin needed to step up his game as he suddenly had even less room for error. While I was mostly focused on the 24-year-old’s defensive game, his offensive side has certainly been given a shot as two of his late-game point shots were tipped in for Los Angeles’s last two game-winning goals. His defense could still stand a bit of improvement but overall, No. 6 has been playing better as the games continue.
The Kings hope a Sunday night in Manhattan will avenge their early-season loss to the Blueshirts as a three-game winning streak is what they’re hoping to attain for just the second time this season.
Enjoy the game!