The LA Kings can tie the Vegas Golden Knights (80 points) tonight for the top spot in the Pacific Division with a win over the visiting St. Louis Blues. After stumbling through a recent road trip, the team has pieced together back-to-back one-goal wins, and captain Anze Kopitar is on a tear with five goals in those two games.
Tonight’s LA Kings Game Notes
The Kings will play in their 64th game of the regular season, while their division rivals, the Golden Knights and Seattle Kraken, remain at 62 games. Tonight the Kings have to secure two points with their new goalie, Joonas Korpisalo, making his debut. Obviously, general manager Rob Blake likes the Finnish netminder, or he wouldn’t have traded a franchise icon to acquire him.
As the season winds down, points are at a premium now, and when weaker teams come to town, playoff-bound clubs must take advantage of these situations and avoid stumbling. Although the Blues have been busy trading away their franchise icons, like Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko, they are still 27-29-5 and won’t be an easy opponent in the season’s final weeks.
Ultimately the Kings should be aggressive out of the gate, scoring a few goals on a team that is currently minus-34 in goal differential and finding a way to take advantage of the 20th-ranked penalty kill unit in the league.
In the previous 12 contests between the two clubs dating back to 2020-21, the Kings have won seven, including their most recent clash on Halloween (Oct. 31st, 2022). During that game, the Kings rolled to an easy 5-1 win, building up a 5-0 lead with goals from Gabriel Vilardi, Arthur Kaliyev, Kopitar, and Carl Grundstrom (2).
Coming into tonight’s game, the Kings are the league’s 10th-best home team, 18-9-2, while the Blues are the 25th-worse road team with a 14-15-1 record. Both teams last played on Thursday, with the Kings beating Montreal (3-2) and the Blues doubling up the San Jose Sharks 6-3. Additionally, the Kings are 7-2-1 in their last ten, and the Blues are just 4-4-2.
LA Kings & Blues Players to Watch
According to starting goalies posted on dailyfaceoff.com, Korpisalo will make his Kings’ debut tonight against the Blues. During his last five games as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Korpisalo had a 3-2-0 record with a 2.40 goals-against average (GAA) and a .933 save percentage (SV%).
Furthermore, tonight will mark his first start for a new franchise, and it will be interesting to see how he adapts to a team built for winning. As many know, the Blue Jackets have been one of the worse teams in the league, which explains his 11-11-3 record. Despite his best efforts, he has surrendered 82 goals for a 3.17 GAA and .911 SV% this year.
For the visitors, the player to watch tonight is Brayden Schenn, who had two points in the Blues’ recent win over the Sharks on Thursday. Furthermore, in his career, the one-time member of the Kings’ organization is one of the few players left in St. Louis with a double-digit point total against the black and silver, with 18 points in 27 games.
Currently, Schenn is fourth in team scoring with 45 points; however, he owns the second worse plus-minus rating with a minus-33.
LA Kings & Blues Historical Notes
Tonight, the Kings and Blues will face off for the 220th time in the regular season, an opportunity for LA to continue to chip away at their losing record against their mid-west rivals. Historically, the Kings are 85-106-22-6 against the Blues while trailing on the scoreboard, 683-629.
Although the Kings have not succeeded in the matchup, they have held the Blues in check at Crypto.com Arena, producing a 19-15-2-4 record in 40 games since 1999. Furthermore, the Kings are 3-2 in the last five contests against the Blues on home ice.
Who’s Next for the LA Kings
After tonight’s contest, Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals roll into town on Monday night before the Kings head to Denver to take on the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Colorado Avalanche, on Thursday night.
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