Previewing the Los Angeles Kings' 2013-14 season:
Game 46 vs. Detroit
January 11, 2014
7:30pm PST (10:30pm EST)
For the first time, the Los Angeles Kings and Detroit Red Wings meet as inter-conference opponents. Also, for the first time in many years, the Red Wings are in danger of missing the playoffs and thus putting their streak of 22-straight seasons making the playoffs in jeopardy. But a date at Staples Center may be what Detroit needs to get back on track after losing 4-1 in San Jose on Thursday.
Saturday night will mark the first of two meetings between the Kings and Wings with both teams set to meet at Joe Louis Arena the following Saturday on the 18th.
Entering Saturday night's tilt against the Kings, the Red Wings are just 19-15-10 while clinging to the final playoff spot in the East just one point ahead of both Carolina and Toronto, and just two points ahead of Ottawa.
While their record isn't great by their own standards, the Red Wings have played their best hockey away from Motown. On the road so far, the Wings are 13-5-3. However, they face a Kings team which is 15-5-3 on home ice. Something's got to give.
Both Detroit and Los Angeles enter Saturday with an identical 4-5-1 mark in their last 10 respectively.
One theme for the Kings as of late has been their lack of offense. That was addressed in a big way on Thursday as four different Kings scored en route to a 4-2 victory over the Boston Bruins. As promising as the end result was, the silver-and-black only hope to keep their offensive juices flowing against the 16th-ranked defense while shutting down an offense that is ranked 17th overall.
While Henrik Zetterberg is currently leading Detroit in goals with 14 and points with 36, the Kings will need to also focus on Tomas Tatar who has scored goals in back-to-back games. However, the Wings are missing quite a few players due to injury. Jonathan Ericsson, Stephen Weiss, Johan Franzen and goaltender Jonas Gustavsson are all on injured reserve while both Pavel Datsyuk and Darren Helm missed Thursday's game in San Jose. The latter two should be game-time decisions.
As for the Kings, they have a clean bill of health while Jeff Carter is currently riding a 10-game point streak having scored seven goals over that stretch. Justin Williams, who played in his 800th-career game on Thursday, scored a goal and added an assist en route to his team's win.
There will be another milestone on Saturday as goaltender Jonathan Quick (assuming he's starting) will play in his 300th-career NHL game as he vies for his 163rd win which will move him to within eight of Rogie Vachon's franchise record.
They may not be in the same conference anymore but there's never been any love lost between the Kings and Wings - and Saturday night should prove to be no exception.
Enjoy the game!