The Boston Bruins and Los Angeles Kings will be facing off for the 126th time in their lifetime series at the Staples Center today at 4pm EST. The B’s hold a 78-33-13-1 record over the Kings, while outscoring LA 521-394, lifetime.
Team USA representatives Tim Thomas, [13-11-5, .921 SV%, 2.38 GAA, 4 SO] and Jonathan Quick [24-15-3, .908 SV%, 2.53 GAA, and 1 SO] will be eyeing each other from some 180 ft. away for 60 minutes this afternoon, in their first of two meetings this season.
Home Team – LA Kings: 26-18-3, 55 points, 3rd Pacific Division, 8th Western Conference. 4-6-0 in their last 10 games and 12-8-2 at home on the season.
While prepping for this preview, I had to search for some real insight on the Kings. Not just surfing the web and looking up stats, but insight from the people with first-hand info and who never miss a game – especially since these two teams don’t face each other as much as we’d like. Frankie, aka Boom, is as big of a hockey-head as there is, and is as die-hard about the Kings as I am with the Black and Gold.
Who to watch out for: So, for the player on the Kings, “who to watch“ is Wayne Simmonds [11-14-25 and a team-high plus-16]. Frankie said of Simmonds, “He was moved up to the top line last night [Thursday] and produced with a goal. He has been awesome since Williams went down with an injury, he also filled in when Smyth was out of the lineup too. He is like Lucic a bit”
Any player who’s like Lucic a bit is a player whom I must keep a close eye on. They’re both No. 17; both Canadian natives; both second-round draft picks; and both are 21-year-old up-and-comers.
Anze Kopitar, the squad’s leader in goals , assists , and points  has 2-3-5 totals and 18 shots on goal in his last five contests.
Alexander Frolov is riding a two-game scoring streak – two assists, plus-3, and 10 shots on net.
Representing Team USA in the upcoming Winter Olympics, probably as the No. 3 goaltender, Kings’ netminder Jonathan Quick has played in 42 of the team’s 47 games this season. The 23-year-old has posted a 3-2-0 record over his last five starts, including a 22 save performance on Thursday night against West Coast foes, Anaheim Ducks.
Ryan Smyth – Anze Kopitar – Wayne Simmonds
Alexander Frolov – Michal Handzus – Dustin Brown
Brad Richardson – Jarret Stoll – Scott Parse
Raitis Ivanans – Oscar Moller – Brandon Segal
Drew Doughty – Rob Scuderi
Jack Johnson – Sean O’Donnell
Peter Harrold – Randy Jones [yes, THAT Randy Jones]
IR: Richard Clune, Andrei Loktionov , Justin Williams, Davis Drewiske
Home Team – Boston Bruins: 23-16-7, 53 points, 3rd Northeast Division, 5th Eastern Conference. 5-5-0 in their last 10 and 10-8-4 on the road this season.
Both teams are in dire need of a win today to remain in the playoff hunt – and are both coming off big victories on Thursday night. The Bruins, a team that has been injury-stuck all season long, has had some unexpected and unsung heroes as of late.
For those on the west coast who haven’t seen the reigning Vezina and Norris Trophy winners – here it is. Tim Thomas backstopped the Bruins with a 41 save performance on Thursday, plus all four in the shootout, with a 2-1 over the Ducks. Blue-liner extraordinaire Zdeno Chara – the leam’s leader in plus-minus [+8] and shots on goal  – scored the game-winning shootout goal on Thursday night. This was after logging roughly 27 minutes of ice time – almost all against the Heatley–Thornton–Marleau line. The 6’9″ All Star will most definitely be on the ice, once again, against the Kings’ top-line at all times.
Who to watch out for: This could be a slew of players. Naturally, Chara and Thomas will be the game-breakers, but it was the overall performance by the team in which won Thursday’s game. Keep an eye on the fourth-line, as they look to repeat their performances of the other night.
Daniel Paille, acquired by the B’s on Oct. 20, 2009, has been rock-solid on Boston’s penalty-kill [1st in the NHL 87.7%]. Paille helped his offense by netting the lone regulation goal on Thursday night, and had a team-high seven shots on goal.
Side note: The Bruins have now killed 47 of their last 51 times short [92.3%]; and have not allowed more than one power play goal against since Oct. 17, 2009.
Sin Bin: For getting paid $4MM per season and having expectations of 30-goal seasons, Michael Ryder’s lack of production is reminiscent of his last season in Montreal. He’s just been plain ‘ol bad for Boston this year. Just 10-8-18 in 46 games this season, Ryder’s hasn’t lit the lamp in nine games – and has 2-2-4 and a plus-1 rating in his last 15 games.
Marco Sturm – Mark Recchi – Miroslav Satan
Blake Wheeler – Vladimir Sobotka – Michael Ryder
Milan Lucic – Steve Begin – Byron Bitz
Daniel Paille – Trent Whitfield – Shawn Thornton
Chara – Wideman
McQuaid – Morris
Boychuk – Hunwick
Injury list: Defenseman Mark Stuart [sternum] and forward Patrice Bergeron [thumb] each made the road trip, but only Stuart is possible for action. Marc Savard [knee], David Krejci [undisclosed], and Andrew Ference [groin] are other injured B’s.