Who: Los Angeles Kings (3-2-0, 3rd place in Pacific Division) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (2-0-1, 4th place Metropolitan Division)
When: 7:00 p.m. Eastern
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in Pittsburgh, ESPN+ elsewhere (Bally Sports West for the away team broadcast)
Opponent Track: The Kings come to town riding a three-game win streak. It’s been an odd start for them: LA began the season with two home games and lost both. Then they went on the road and have won all three of those games. The last two games — in Detroit on Monday (OT) and in Nashville on Tuesday (SO) have come by way of extra time.
On Monday, LA “shoulda, coulda” won in regulation, but Viktor Arvidsson “Patrik Stefan’d” an empty net and Detroit would tie the game — only to see the Kings go on to win in OT anyways. On Tuesday, LA entered the third period down by two goals to the Preds, but dug out of the hole with two goals from the same player, and a most unlikely source at that in Matt Roy. Roy only scored two goals in 67 games during all of last season! Eventually LA pulled out the shootout victory. So, yeah, very strange start for them so far. After today, the Kings finish up their fifth and final game of the current road trip in Washington.
Pens Path Ahead: The Pens are about to hit the road themselves for a five game trip that starts on Saturday in Columbus. After that, the team gets some early season bonding by heading west for back-to-back games in Calgary and Edmonton next Mon+Tues, getting a few days off and then seeing Vancouver and Seattle next Fri+Sat.
Season Series: The second and final game of the PIT/LA season series is way out on February 11th in sunny Los Angeles. After a cold week in Western PA as fall just begins to set in with chilly temperatures, a mid-winter trip out to Southern California is something to envy already.
Getting to know the Kings
Adrian Kempe - Anze Kopitar - Kevin Fiala
Trevor Moore - Philip Danault - Viktor Arvidsson
Carl Grundstrom - Quinton Byfield - Gabriel Vilardi
Brendan Lemieux - Blake Lizotte - Arthur Kaliyev
Michael Anderson / Drew Doughty
Sean Durzi / Matt Roy
Brandt Clarke / Sean Walker
Goalies: Jonathan Quick or Cal Petersen
Scratches: Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Alex Edler (injured), Jacob Moverare
IR: Alex Iafallo
—Tough break for Iafallo to go down injured, he was playing on that third line with a couple of former first round picks the Kings have high hopes for (Byfield and Valardi) and playing well with five points in four games this season. A Penguin fan might also remember that Iafallo has been effective against Pittsburgh last year, recording three points (1G+2A) in two games against the Pens in 2021-22.
—This is a very young Kings team overall, Kopitar and Doughty will be the only skaters in the lineup tonight older than 30. Clarke was the ninth overall pick in 2021 and has made his NHL debut this season. Byfield was the second pick not too long ago in the 2020 draft. Others like Anderson, Durzi, Kaliyev and Vilardi are barely old enough to buy a beer but playing pretty big roles on the team.
—There was some outside talk about how LA would handle a trio of former first round picks after this training camp. All of Gabe Vilardi, Jaret Anderson-Dolan and Lias Andersson now would need waivers to go to the AHL, none have been established to this point. The Kings decided to play one (Vilardi) and he is off to a great start this season and might finally by living up to being the 11th pick in now his fourth season crack at the NHL. Dolan has remained as the 13th/14th forward that hasn’t played, Andersson (the former No. 7 overall pick by the Rangers in 2017) was waived, cleared and is in the AHL.
—Did you know Drew Doughty is 32, going on 33 in December? I would have guessed he was like 35 or 36+ by now, feels like he’s been around forever.
—Arvidsson scored 20G+29A in 66 games for the Kings last year, but does bringing in a player like Fiala have a negative trickle down on someone like Arvidsson’s opportunities? Arvidsson’s overall average time played has not gone down, but he is the fifth highest forward in power play TOI so far this season (he was fourth last year). Fiala has been great to start the season and is a positive addition to the team, but it’s always interesting to watch some of the unforeseen trickle down effects happen after adding a front-line player and how it bumps down the other players on the team.
—One other weird and random stat: As of yesterday morning when I ran this, LA led the NHL with 5.2 power play opportunities per game so far in this young season. They have averaged playing 7:55 per game with the power play, which feels absurdly high. Los Angeles’ games so far this season have not lacked for much drama or excitement throughout them.
And now for the Pens...
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Rickard Rakell
Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust
Danton Heinen - Jeff Carter - Kasperi Kapanen
Brock McGinn - Ryan Poehling - Josh Archibald
Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson / Jeff Petry
Pierre-Olivier Joseph / Jan Rutta
Goalies: Tristan Jarry (Casey DeSmith)
Scratches: Teddy Blueger (day-to-day injury), Chad Ruhwedel
—No changes in practice yesterday for the Pens, who had an off day on Tuesday after arriving in after 1:00am Tuesday morning back from the game in Montreal (love that twitter account).
—The no change is not the best thing, with Blueger still in a non-contact jersey. He hasn’t officially been ruled out for today, but Mike Sullivan “would not anticipate” that Blueger’s able to play tonight which is about as concrete as he will be about a lineup declaration. Blueger did line rushes with extra defenseman Chad Ruhwedel, so all signs are pointing to a fourth straight missed game for the center.
In only five outings, there have been 41 total goals scored in Kings’ games this year (20 by them, 21 by opponents). That’s a whopping 8.2 goals/game. Pittsburgh has 7.0 goals/game going on themselves. After an uninspired effort last game, I’m looking for the Pens to get some coaching and fire out at home tonight and for LA to keep the wide-open play going at both ends of the ice.
- $10 on over 6.5 goals in the game (-120, to pay $18.33)
Season picks: 4-2, +0.591 units