Previewing the Los Angeles Kings' 2013-14 season:
Game 62 vs. Carolina
March 1, 2014
1pm PST (4pm EST)
Having won three-straight and two-in-a-row since the Olympic break, the Los Angeles Kings look to be like their mascot and enter March the same way they finished February: like a lion. But entering the final full month of the regular season, the Kings know full-well that they pick up as many points as possible, especially with Vancouver and Phoenix nipping at their heels to crack the top-three in the Pacific Division. Their opponents, the Carolina Hurricanes, may have something else to say.
At 26-24-9, the Canes currently sit seven points out of the final playoff spot in the East. In terms of recent success, you could go either way as Carolina is an even 5-5-0 in their last 10. While netminder Cam Ward has had his share of injuries this season, the Hurricanes have had support in between the pipes from both Anton Khudobin and Justin Peters. Plus, with their overall success against opposing goaltenders over the last few months, the Los Angeles Kings should not be taking Carolina's goaltending dilemma lightly. With that said, the Canes are near the bottom of the overall standings in the goals-for department. Carolina has scored just 147 goals so far this season which should be good news for both the Los Angeles defensive unit and goaltending whether it will be Jonathan Quick or Martin Jones getting the nod on Saturday.
This will mark the second and final meeting between the Kings and Canes this season and the first since October 11. It was there that the Kings won 2-1 in a shootout in Raleigh thanks to the winning goal scored by Jeff Carter. A bit more offense would be nice but if the Kings can keep the puck out of their net, the end result would be just as good.
As for who's hot for the Hurricanes, xaptain Eric Staal has scored in each of Carolina's games since returning from the Olympic break. It could also help that Staal will be even more determined down the stretch given that, unlike in 2010, he was not selected to represent Team Canada in Sochi. As for the Kings, Anze Kopitar is rolling with seven points in his last four outings. Jonathan Quick is also hot coming off a 25-save shutout in Calgary on Thursday. Plus, while it has only been two games, Dustin Brown has three points in his last two games and on Thursday, registered his first multi-point game since October. While there's nothing to get excited about just yet, it is comforting to see the Los Angeles captain produce after watching him struggle for countless weeks.
The Canes have lost three-in-a-row while the Kings have won their last three. On paper, this contest should favour the Kings. But it is an afternoon game which usually doesn't suit the silver-and-black too well. Only time will tell until we see which team comes out stronger and more importantly, who takes the two points.
Enjoy the game!