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Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Los Angeles Kings Game Preview
The Lightning have just started their California road trip with a victory against the San Jose Sharks with a final score of 5-1. The first line combined for 9 points with Stamkos getting 3 assists, Kucherov with 1 goal and 2 assists, and Namestinikov with 2 goals and 1 assist. It’s pretty safe to say that every team the Lightning has faced so far, has had their eye on Tampa’s 1st line. Tampa’s first line is currently the best line in hockey, and everyone knows it. Especially the Los Angeles Kings. The Los Angeles Kings currently have the number one penalty kill with 92.6%, while the lightning have the 2nd best power play in the league with just over 28% efficiency . The LA Kings is one of, if not the most physical team in the entire league. Let’s look back at the Tampa’s loss on October 28th against the Anaheim Ducks. The final score was 4-1 Anaheim, and it was that way because they played at their blue line all game limited chances for possession players like Kucherov, Stamkos, Hedman, etc. to get in the offensive zone. Chances are that’s the film the Kings are looking at as I’m writing this. The Ducks shut down the neutral zone very effectively and thus the result was a win, while limiting a high scoring team like the Lightning to just 1 goal.The Kings don’t necessarily care about getting physical and getting in your face, and that’s one of the key reasons why they rank 3rd in the league and 1st in the Pacific Division with 24 points and 11 wins.
KEYS FOR SUCCESS:
1. Maintain possession everywhere on the ice.
The Kings are a very possession oriented team and like to control the game that way. They want to keep you chasing them until they put the puck in the back of the net. The Lighting from the bat have to keep possession and control the game early on.
2. Don’t sleep on a lead.
One example of this can be their last home game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. We got too comfortable with the lead and we eventually escaped with the shootout winner. That is one thing you can’t do with this team considering they just had a comeback win against Anaheim in OT.
3. Make Johnathan Quick uneasy.
One thing the Lightning love to do is pass the puck across the crease and in general pass everywhere. But when they are in the offensive possession in their offensive zone, they need to pass quickly in the offensive zone. The Lightning had great success last game doing it so I’m sure they’ll do it again. It’s not very easy knocking Johnathan Quick off but one thing you have to do is to keep him moving in his crease and be quick about it (see what I did there).
Budaj: 0-1-1 GAA: 4.00 SV%: .855
LOS ANGELES OUTLOOK:
The Los Angeles Kings are a defensive minded team, but don’t sleep on their offensive depth. With Jeff Carter missing most if not all of this season, it’s sending a message to the locker room that they do not want to duplicate last season’s issues with Johnathan Quick missing most of last season. With the comeback win against Anaheim it showed the offensive depth very well. 7 players on offense recorded a point, Johnathan Quick got an assist, and Jake Muzzin got an assist. If the Kings want to look strong and complete as a whole they have to play like San Jose did when the puck dropped against the Lightning. Play fast, and physical.
KEYS FOR SUCCESS:
1. Play fast and physical.
You’re playing against an eastern conference team so they need to play like one. Play fast, play with a trigger finger, and create space between you and the defense. However, they need to have some western conference traits as well. One, they need to be physical and create havoc. Also, clog up the neutral zone.
2. Shoot and grab the rebounds up front.
One thing San Jose did particularly well in the 1st period – which was their best period- was getting people up in front of the goalie and trying to jam the pucks in the net. However, they didn’t completely use this strategy throughout the game. If they had, they might have had some scoring chances and maybe would’ve gotten an other goal or so.
3. Clog up the neutral zone
In both of Tampa’s losses to the New York Rangers, and the Anaheim Ducks both teams did a tremendous job in clogging the neutral zone up, and being physical as soon as an opposing players skates crosses over their blue line. If the King’s want to shutdown the Lightning, this is definitely the way to do it.
Quick : 9-2-0 GAA: 2.06 SV%: .937
Keep in mind that certain mixes in offensive lines, defensive lines, and the starting goalie for both teams is subject to change at any time before puck drop.