Previewing the Los Angeles Kings' 2013-14 season:
Game 42 @ St. Louis
January 2, 2014
5pm PST (8pm EST)
Like they started December, the Los Angeles Kings kick off January against the St. Louis Blues. It's the start of a new calendar year and the silver-and-black hope to start it better than they ended 2013. This will be the final game of a disappointing four-game road stand and at 0-3, the Kings are simply hoping to return home with a couple of points.
Thursday night marks the second of three meetings between the Kings and Blues will Los Angeles winning the first matchup by a 3-2 score back on November 2 at Staples Center. Thursday and again on January 16, the Kings will need to beat the powerful Blues at Scottrade Center. Despite eliminating them in the last two playoffs, the Kings are in tough against a Blues team which has won three-in-a-row. At 27-7-5, St. Louis currently sits second in the Central Division five points ahead of Los Angeles in the conference and four points behind Chicago for the division lead. The Blues are 7-1-2 in their last 10 and 15-3-2 on home ice this season. On paper, it looks as though the Kings, who have lost four-straight, are ripe for the picking. But don't count the silver-and-black out just yet. After all, if there's one team Los Angeles has had a great deal of success against over the last few years (regular season or playoffs), it's the St. Louis Blues.
But to continue said success, the Kings will need to contain quite a few players, including Vladamir Tarasenko and Kevin Shattenkirk who both scored a goal and an assist against the Kings at Staples last month. Speaking of the latter, with the news of Shattenkirk making the US Olympic team still fresh, the Blues D-man may have some extra motivation to bring his A-game on Thursday. Then again, the same could also be said for Dustin Brown who also made Team USA.
Like the Kings, the Blues also have a formidable duo in goal. Both Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott have been superb in between the pipes in St. Louis, although it's the latter who's putting up the better numbers.
In 16 games this season, Elliott has gone 10-1-2 with a 1.96 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage. But the Kings have had success against Elliott and they hope to continue that on Thursday. However, should they want to take some shots at Elliott, the Kings will have to solve the defense in front of him which, aside from the aforementioned Shattenkirk, includes the likes of Alex Pietrangelo and veteran Jay Bouwmeester.
It's a battle of two of the premier teams in the West and both teams' opening games of 2014 should be a great way to kick off the year. Of course, something does have to give and the Kings hope they end the night with the two points.
Can they do it? We'll see.
Enjoy the game!