Previewing the Los Angeles Kings' 2013-14 season:
Game 9 vs. Dallas
October 19, 2013
7:30pm PST (10:30pm EST)
For the first time in 14 years, the Los Angeles Kings and Dallas Stars will not be playing each other as divisional rivals. Despite the recent realignment, however, said matchup shouldn’t lack any excitement as after a few significant off-season moves in addition to a new logo and new uniforms, the Dallas Stars are determined to get back into the postseason after a five-year absence – and some success against the Los Angeles Kings will certainly point them in the right direction.
The Kings, though, might have something to say about Dallas’s eagerness to leave Los Angeles with two points. Sure, the Stars picked up an offensive threat in Tyler Seguin but, in the process, parted with Loui Eriksson who has had success against the silver-and-black in recent years. Behind the bench, the Stars have a more-than-experience bona fide new head coach in Lindy Ruff and upstairs, have a new general manager in Jim Nill. While the latter won’t affect the outcome of one game, the point is clear: the Dallas Stars have a brand-new look.
While their 3-3-0 record thus far may not be much to write about, the Stars won three of five games over the Kings last season and are 4-1-0 against them in their last five visits to Staples Center despite Los Angeles’s dominance against their old division rivals prior to that.
In my pre-season preview, I predicted that, of all the threats in the Western Conference this season, the Kings may have the most difficulty against the Stars. While I’m normally not too crazy about being wrong, I certainly hope that I’m incorrect in this instance. Of course, the Kings will have to bring their A-game should they hope to recapture their dominance against the Stars, especially on home ice.
Speaking of Tyler Seguin, this will be the only the second time he visits Staples Center as a player after being drafted second-overall in 2010 (also at Staples) by the Boston Bruins. Seguin was acquired in the off-season from Boston most notably because of his lack of discipline of the age. For those who think such a matter is a liability for his new team, remember that the Philadelphia Flyers parted ways with Mike Richards and Jeff Carter for allegedly the same reasons – and we all know how that turned out.
Sticking with Seguin, though, whatever off-ice issues he has had certainly isn’t affecting his play on the ice.
In six games this season, the youngster is leading the way for the Stars with eight points (three goals, five assists) while rookie Alex Chiasson isn’t far behind with six points. Jamie Benn has a goal and five assists thus far while Cody Eakin and the wily veteran Ray Whitney each have contributed with four points.
While the Kings must find ways to contain Seguin, Chiasson and Benn, it isn’t to a stretch by any means to suggest that the silver-and-black need to treat every Stars player as an offensive threat considering their ability so far to spread the wealth, if you will, on the scoresheet.
As for the Kings, they are coming off a 3-1-0 mark on their most recent road trip and will play eight of their next nine games at home. After being pulled on Tuesday night in Tampa, Jonathan Quick redeemed himself on Thursday in Nashville stopping 34 of 35 shots with the goal he surrendered being scored despite a magnificent save on his part.
As reliable as No. 32 is, the Kings know they have to pick their collective game up a notch both offensively. While they did post a winning record last week away from home, Los Angeles was only able to score six goals during that stretch which translates to 1.5 goals per game. The Kings will need a much better effort should they hope to keep their winning ways going.
Should the Kings fail to pick it up offensively, however, they will need to step it up a notch defensively as Quick (or Scrivens) simply cannot do everything themselves.
As far as goaltending goes for the Stars, Kari Lehtonen will not play as he is currently sidelined with a lower-body injury. Kings fans may be relieved to hear such news but it wouldn't be wise to underestimate the impact Dan Ellis or Jack Campbell can have filling in for the injured Lehtonen - so we'll see how that turns out.
Nevertheless, the Kings are back home and fans are excited and rearing to go, especially with the Dodgers unfortunately being eliminated from the MLB playoffs last night.
The Kings and Stars meet in the first of three matchups this season as the silver-and-black hope to emphasize the “advantage” in home-ice advantage.
Enjoy the game!