Previewing the Los Angeles Kings’ 2012-13 season:
Game 37 vs. Minnesota, April 4, 2013, 7:30pm PST (10:30pm EST)
For the second time in less than a week, the Los Angeles Kings and Minnesota Wild will square off. Thursday night will be the second of three meetings between the two clubs this season with this matchup coming at the Staples Centerin Los Angeles. This will mark the only time this year the Wild will be in town.
After a successful five-game road trip where they went 3-1-1, the Kings return to their home fans for a couple of games before hitting the road again. With the annual trade deadline come and gone, both teams look a bit different with both clubs acquiring talent from the rebuilding Buffalo Sabres. On Wednesday, Minnesota acquired longtime Sabre captain Jason Pominville while the Kings filled their need for another blueline presence by adding Robyn Regehr on Monday evening. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Regehr is expected to make his Kings’ debut against the Wild where he will sport #44 which was previously worn by fellow defenseman Davis Drewiske (who was traded to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday).
The last meeting between the Kings and Wild came this past Saturday night in St. Paul in which Minnesota erased a two-goal deficit and won in a shootout. While he was great during regulation and overtime, Jonathan Quick was anything but in the shootout as he allowed three goals on three shots. We could criticize him but in all fairness, why prepare for the shootout when it’s not even in play during the playoffs? Besides, all the Kings have to do is avoid going to a shootout which considering how they’ve played this season thus far, is not a difficult thing to do.
While he played admirably against Los Angeles over the weekend, Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom did allow three goals on 31 shots so while it’s not an easy task, the Kings should feel confident that they can put a few by the Finnish backstop again on Thursday especially with the home fans behind them. On Saturday, Los Angeles did score two of their goals on the power play so maybe getting on the man-advantage is something they need to do again.
While it is a stretch to say that either team is out of the woods, the playoff pictures of both clubs looks clearer by the day. As of Wednesday evening, the Kings sit fifth in the West with 43 points while the Wild sit one point ahead tied for third in the conference.
The sorta-new-look Kings hope to kick off their mini home stand with a big win to further strengthen their playoff hopes. A first win against a tough Minnesota Wild team will do just that. We’ll see if they can do it.
Enjoy the game!