Last time we saw those left coasters (November 23, also in LA) Semyon Varlamov and Ben Scrivens posted a shutout into overtime until Jamie McGinn scored the lone goal for the Avs to give them the win. Going into that game, the Kings were starting to hit a bit of an early season stride with a 7-1-2 record in their previous 10 games and the Avs were 6-4 in their last 10 and we were all starting to talk more seriously about "regression" and ".500 hockey." Still, the result was a fast, physical game that had the feel of a playoff tilt. Coming into today's action, the feeling is much the same. Colorado (5-4-1 in last 10) has largely been an alternating win/loss team for the month of December while the Kings enter the game having won eight of their last ten.
The Kings have been getting scoring from multiple people but two guys on fire of late are left winger Dwight King who appears to be in the midst of a breakthrough season after largely being an ECHL and AHL stalwart to this point in the 24-year-old's career. He's pumped in 3 goals and 3 assists in his last five games. Similarly, Philly-fan-favorite Jeff Carter has tallied 3 goals and 5 assists in his last five. Notice that neither of those guys' names sound anything like "Anze Kopitar" or "Mike Richards" or "Justin Williams." So what I'm saying is they have some scoring depth.
Colorado has been no slouch in the goals department either. Mighty Matt Duchene has 4 goals to go along with 6 assists in his last five games, linemate and BFF Ryan O`Reilly has 2 goals and 2 assists in his last five, as does checking forward Maxim Talbot. Paul Stastny has fared a touch better with 2 goals and 3 assists. Missing from that list are usual stalwarts Gabriel Landeskog and P.A. Parenteau, not to mention Nathan MacKinnon. All three have been mired in a bit of goal drought of late.
But enough about those "superstar forwards" or whatever. Let's talk about the players the fans really care about. Stud King goalie Jonathan Quick is still out with a groin injury but backup Ben Scrivens has been rock solid (10-5) and the backup's backup Martin Jones has been unbeatable, going 7-0 to start his NHL career. I hope he's buying plenty of dinners for his team and wearing protection with all the "attention" he's no doubt getting from "grateful fans." Jones has a pretty damn good pedigree and has plenty of people talking about LA's stellar goaltending depth.
Semyon Varlamov got some good news yesterday as the Denver district attorney's office dropped all charges stemming from the incident in late October. As for his play on the ice, after getting shelled in a gongshow against Edmonton a few weeks ago, he's largely righted the ship going 3-1-1 since. Veteran J.S. Giguere has struggled of late dropping his last two decisions, but enters tonight's game with a pretty-spry-for-an-old-guy record of 7-2.
Here are your projected starting lineups:
|Jake Muzzin||Drew Doughty|
|Robin Regehr||Slava Voynov|
|(Starter-presumed) Martin Jones (0.85 GAA, .971 SV%)|
|(Backup) Ben Scrivens (1.66 GAA, .941 SV%)
Out: Jonathan Quick (groin), Willie Mitchell (UBI), Matt Frattin (healthy), Daniel Carcillo (healthy)
||Matt Duchene||Ryan O'Reilly|
|Gabriel Landeskog||Paul Stastny||P.A. Parenteau|
|Patrick Bordeleau||Marc-Andre Cliche||Cody McLeod|
|Jan Hejda||Erik Johnson|
|Tyson Barrie||Nate Guenin|
|(Starter) Semyon Varlamov (2.13 GAA, .933 SV%)|
|(Backup) J.S. Giguere (1.62 GAA, .949 SV%)
Out: Nick Holden (healthy), Alex Tanguay (knee), Ryan Wilson (back)
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Puck drops 2:00pm MT / 4:00pm E