Previewing the Los Angeles Kings' 2011-12 season:

 

Game 43 vs. Washington

 

January 9, 2012

 

7:30pm PST (10:30pm EST)

 

 

After a discouraging 1-0 loss to the lowly Blue Jackets on Saturday, the Los Angeles Kings hope to rebound tonight as they welcome the Washington Capitals to town, a team that, before losing to San Jose two nights ago, were winners of four straight. Tonight marks the only time the Kings and Caps meet this season.

 

Their lone meeting last season came in Washington on February 12 when, after allowing a goal on the game’s first shot, Los Angeles rallied for four unanswered goals, winning 4-1.

 

At 21-16-2, the Caps sit 10th in the East just two points out of a playoff spot. Despite where they stand, they are 6-3-1 in their last ten, looking to get back on the winning track with the help of leading scorer Nicklas Backstrom and the resurgent Alexander Ovechkin, who has 33 points in 39 games thus far.

 

With the likes of Backstrom, Ovechkin and Dennis Wideman (who leads all Caps’ defensemen in points), the Kings find themselves on the other side of the spectrum as they have gone 158:26 of regulation time without scoring once. If that wasn’t bad enough, their power play is abysmal, having gone 0-for-8 on Saturday against the league’s 29th-ranked penalty-killing unit in Columbus. Facing such a potent lineup tonight, baby steps simply won’t do. The Kings need a near-miracle.

 

Jonathan Quick, who leads the NHL with six shutouts, is the only one keeping the Kings competitive each night. Although he wasn’t busy on Saturday, he did play well and, in his defense, Columbus’ lone goal was as smooth as silk, thus too good for even the best of netminders to stop.

 

With only one other game in the NHL tonight, the Kings have an ideal opportunity to jump a couple of spots in the conference standings. At 47 points, Los Angeles is currently tied with division-rival Dallas for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. However, with a win tonight, the Kings can leapfrog over idle Minnesota and Nashville (each with 48 points) into 6th in the West. Of course, to do that, the Kings will have to play like a whole new team.

 

Can they do it? One can only hope. Enjoy the game!

 

 

 

Photo: Courtesy of Associated Press

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