This is the first of three meetings between Los Angeles and St. Louis this season. After tonight, the two teams will meet on Tuesday, March 5 at Staples Center and Thursday, March 28 at Scottrade Center.
Lots more after the jump…
Last year, the Kings finished 3-1-0 against the Blues, going 2-0 at home (with one win in a shootout) and 1-1 on the road. Los Angeles out-scored St. Louis – taking into account the shootout goal – 9-3 in the season series. Jonathan Quick had two shutouts against the Blues last season – allowing one goal in three games – but is not expected to start. Jonathan Bernier, who earned second star honors by stopping 23 of 25 shots in a 3-2 win at Scottrade Center on November 22, 2011, is expected to start. His only other start against St. Louis was the second start (and first loss) of his career, which came less than two months after his 19th birthday. He stopped 27 of 31 shots in a 5-3 home loss to the Blues on October 6, 2007.
Jaroslav Halak will get the start for St. Louis and owns a career record of 6-2-0 with a 1.70 GAA and .935 save percentage against the Kings, numbers that include a two-period performance in Los Angeles’ home opener last season when he made 14 saves on 18 shots. Jake Allen was considered for the start tonight, but Halak was able to come off injured reserve, where he had been since February 1 with a groin strain. Allen was reassigned to AHL-Peoria; Brian Elliott isn’t providing quite the same balance as a season ago and now appears more like a back-up to Halak than a platoon partner with an .853 save percentage on the season.
St. Louis is winless on the current homestand, going 0-2-1. They are winless in four games overall – with Saturday’s shootout loss to Anaheim representing the lone point they’ve earned – and have been outscored 22-10 while their record has dropped from 6-1-0 to 6-4-1. The Blues open a three-game road trip in Detroit on Wednesday.
Rankings and Statistics:
Goals/Game: LAK – t-25 / 2.10; STL – t-3 / 3.36
Goals Against/Game: LAK – t-21 / 3.00; STL – 24 / 3.18
Power Play: LAK – 27 / 10.9%; STL – 1 / 36.6%
Penalty Kill: LAK – 17 / 79.6%; STL – 25 / 75.0%
Shots/Game: LAK – 8 / 30.8; STL – t-6 / 30.9
Shots Against/Game: LAK – 2 / 25.2; STL – 1 / 22.2
Faceoffs: LAK – t-19 / 49.0%; STL – t-19 / 49.0%
Projected Lines – Los Angeles
Simon Gagne – Anze Kopitar – Dustin Brown
Kyle Clifford – Jeff Carter – Justin Williams
Dwight King – Mike Richards – Jordan Nolan
Dustin Penner – Jarret Stoll – Trevor Lewis
Keaton Ellerby – Drew Doughty
Rob Scuderi – Slava Voynov
Alec Martinez – Davis Drewiske
Notes: Dustin Penner is likely in tonight as a left wing, though it is unclear which line he’ll join. Because of the strong performances by Kyle Clifford and Dwight King in Sunday’s game against Detroit, I’m slotting Penner in on the Jarret Stoll line, opposite Trevor Lewis. Jewels from the Crown has a different projection. As always, line pairings are educated assessments and not definite alignments.
Projected Lines – St. Louis
Andy McDonald – David Backes – T.J. Oshie
David Perron – Alex Steen – Vladimir Tarasenko
Vladimir Sobotka – Patrik Berglund – Chris Stewart
Matt D’Agostini – Scott Nichol – Ryan Reaves
Ian Cole – Alex Pietrangelo
Barrett Jackman – Kevin Shattenkirk
Wade Redden – Roman Polak
Notes: Jamie Langenbrunner is out for the season with a torn labrum in his left hip. Jaroslav Halak was reinstated from injured reserve and will make his first start since February 1. Promising rookie Jaden Schwartz, who has one assist in nine games and played on Saturday against Anaheim, is a projected scratch. As always, line pairings are educated assessments and not definite alignments.
Dustin Brown, on facing a team L.A. eliminated on the playoffs a season ago:
“For us, it’s just another game. Especially in the situation we’ve put ourselves in early on in the season, we have to get off to a good start tonight. It’s going to be the same approach for us as it was in Detroit.”
Dustin Brown, on whether there may be “fireworks at the get-go”:
“I think every time we play the Blues, it’s a pretty physical game. But in saying that, both teams are struggling and need points badly. There’s going to be passion, like in physicality, but I don’t think there’s going to be anything over the top where guys are going to be putting themselves ahead of their teams.”