Battle of two top-heavy teams
When it comes to forwards, are there any more top-heavy teams in the NHL than the Kings and the Florida Panthers. The Kings’ forwards, collectively, have scored 86 goals this season, and 40 of those goals have come from the current first-line players, Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams. For the Panthers, it’s even more stark. The Panthers’ forwards have scored a total of 99 goals, and 50 of them have come from the current first-line trio of Tomas Fleischmann, Stephen Weiss and Kris Versteeg.
Also, it seems Kevin Dineen is not a baseball manager either. The Panthers’ coach wouldn’t definitively name his starting goalie for tonight, which leaves open the possibility that Jose Theodore might return from injury and get the start. Theodore has missed six consecutive games, and 11 of the last 13, with a mild knee injury, but was a full participant in today’s morning skate. If Theodore — who faced the Kings on Dec. 1 in Los Angeles — doesn’t start, the nod will go to Scott Clemmensen. [UPDATE: Per the Miami Herald, Clemmensen will start.]
For the Kings, tonight’s game starts perhaps the oddest stretch of games this season. It’s three games in four days, with a zig-zag of the country. Tonight, the Kings will fly north and play the New York Islanders on Saturday in a game that starts at 1 p.m. local time. Then, they will fly southwest and play the Dallas Stars the next day, at 5 p.m. local time.