The Avs are coming off a big 4-2 victory at home against the 2-time defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins. They played a solid 60 minutes of hockey, with team being lead by Tyson Barrie - who had his best game of the season and potted 2 goals for the EJ-less Avs.
Meanwhile, the Kings are coming off a big win themselves in the City of Brotherly Love on Monday with decisive 4-1 win over the Flyers, who are trying to get back on track after having a disastrous month of November.
The Kings currently sit tied with the Vegas Golden Knights for 1st place in the Pacific division, boasting 46 points. This is a Kings team that shuts you down defensively, as they are first in the league in goals against - giving up just 2.34 per game.
It’s not hard to figure out how they’re able to do this, considering they are one of the biggest teams in the league. The Kings formula for the past decade has been hit first, score later. They currently rank 2nd in the league with 876 hits. On the contrary, the Avalanche are 2nd to last in the NHL in hits with 577.
Historically speaking, these two teams have been about even when they square off against each other, but advantage goes to the home team with a 25-41-5 record for the Avalanche in LA.
The Avalanche have seemed to find some rhythm with the Andrighetto/Compher/Wilson line as of late. Although the score sheet won’t reflect the success they’ve had, their TOI is a good indicator that Coach Bednar trusts that line in important situations.
The 4th line continues to be a hodgepodge group of guys that can’t boost any sort consistency either due to injuries or inexperience. The once touted “2C” for Colorado has ultimately fallen from the depth chart in Alexander Kerfoot. Part of that has to do with the injury he sustained to the foot, but with the recent success of the new second line, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
The defense will yet again be without their leader in Erik Johnson, as he will serve his final punishment for a 2-game suspension brought down by the DOPS. The blue line will look much the same as the game they played on Monday night.
Mark Barberio and Nikita Zadorov have been notably efficient for the Avalanche in Johnson’s absence. In fact, Barberio has been much better of late and posts a 57.79 CA/60 which is second best on the team behind Sam Girard.
Los Angeles Kings
The Kings are led by second year captain Anze Kopitar. He leads all Kings in scoring with 39 points and 17 goals. The first line is rather a surprising one as Dustin Brown has made a resurgence back into relevance and Alex Iafallo has come out of nowhere to claim top wing pairing with Kopitar.
Marian Gaborik returned from injury in late November and never seemed to lose his scoring touch. He’s scored 5 goals in 13 games so far and plays a key role on special teams.
“That 70’s Line” is still without their top playmaker for the foreseeable future as Jeff Carter remains sidelined with an ankle injury he sustained in October. Adrian Kempe has filled the center position between Pearson and Toffoli and unfortunately does not wear a number in the 70’s.
The defense is a stout group. 2018 unrestricted free agent, Drew Doughty, leads the defense and is a name that is really starting to churn in the rumor mill. Will he be a King next year? Could he be an Av?
The Kings blueline is experienced if anything else. Only Oscar Fantenberg is new to the NHL but seems to be adapting just fine with 8 points through 22 games.
Varly will be between the pipes tonight in Los Angeles. He was terrific on Monday night after letting in a blunder of a goal that looked almost like the puck had a motor to the back of his net. Varlamov has two wins in his last two starts and has stopped 62 of the 65 shots he has faced. He owns a mark of 11-8-1 this season with a 3.03 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage.
Though nothing is confirmed as of yet, Quick looks to get the nod for L.A. He stopped 36 of 37 shots he faced versus the Flyers on Monday night and has a 16-10-1 record to boot. He currently boasts a 2.28 goals against average and .927 save percentage.
How to Watch/Listen
The game is a late one tonight for all you night owls and will air on Altitude TV. Puck is set to drop at 8:30pm MST.
You can also listen to the game with our friend Marc Moser on Altitude Sports Radio 950AM.