Previewing the Los Angeles Kings' 2013-14 season:

Game 56 vs. Pittsburgh

January 30, 2014

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

After an inauspicious start to 2014, the Los Angeles Kings return home hoping to end a disappointing January with some momentum heading into February. To do that, however, they will have to deal with a Pittsburgh Penguins team who, despite a couple of lopsided losses this week, have really found their stride.

Thursday night marks the first of two meetings between the Kings and Penguins this season and the only meeting until March 27 when the silver-and-black travel to the Steel City. Thursday also marks the first meeting between these two clubs in 27 months. On November 5, 2011, the Pens edged the Kings in the shootout by a 3-2 score.

On Thursday, though, the Kings not only welcome a tough Pens team to town but one of their former players.

After spending four seasons in Los Angeles, defenseman Rob Scuderi returned to Pittsburgh in the off-season where he started his career. While an injury has limited to the veteran to just 24 games this season, Scuderi has nonetheless been as helpful to the Penguins on the blueline as he was while in the City of Angels. Everyone should expect a warm ovation for the former King on Thursday.

As for Los Angeles’s opponent, the Penguins are 7-2-1 in their last 10. While they will have to deal with the likes of Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and possibly even former Kings prospect netminder Jeff Zatkoff, the silver-and-black must deal with the polarizing Sidney Crosby who leads the entire league with 74 points, 10 more than John Tavares. Sid the Kid’s quest for the Art Ross isn’t slowing down so the Kings will have to pull out the big guns and step up their defensive game another notch. If only they still had Rob Scuderi. But I digress.

On a positive note, the Kings do seem to play much better against teams ahead of them in the standings. Here’s hoping that Thursday will be one of those nights.

Enjoy the game!