March 12, 2013 3:25 pm

Game 25 Preview: Los Angeles at Phoenix

Projected Starting Goaltender, Los Angeles – Jonathan Quick*
Season: 19 GP (18 GS) / 9-7-2 record / 2.47 GAA / .899 Sv% / 0
Career vs Phoenix: 23 (23) / 11-9-3 / 2.55 / .908 / 3
Last Game vs Phoenix: 1/26/13 / 60 MP / 31/33 / 4-2 W
2012-13, Away: 10 (10) / 3-5-1 / 2.76 / .902 / 0
*The Kings do not reveal starting goaltenders in advance, and because of the absence of a morning skate, it wasn’t possible to confidently deduce tonight’s starter. See the projected lineups after the jump for more details.

Projected Starting Goaltender, Phoenix – Mike Smith
Season: 20 (20) / 10-7-2 / 2.96 / .897 / 3
Career vs Los Angeles: 11 (11) / 8-2-1 / 1.62 / .941 / 2
Last Game vs Los Angeles: 2/21/12 / 65 MP / 25/29 + 2/3 / 5-4 SOW
2012-13, Home: 12 (12) 7-4-0 / 3.30 / .876 / 2

Leading Scorers, Los Angeles
Total Points: Anze Kopitar (8-14=22)
Goals: Jeff Carter (17-2=19)
Assists: Anze Kopitar (8-14=22)
Plus/Minus: Justin Williams (+12; 3-12=15)
Penalty Minutes: Keaton Ellerby (48*; 0-1=1)
*36 of Ellerby’s 48 PIM were accrued while with the Florida Panthers.

Leading Scorers, Phoenix
Total Points: Oliver Ekman-Larsson (3-14=17)
Goals: Shane Doan (8-6=14)
Assists: Oliver Ekman-Larsson (3-14=17)
Plus/Minus: Oliver Ekman-Larsson (+7; 3-14=17)
Penalty Minutes: Kyle Chipchura (43; 4-6=10)

A stick tap goes to: Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The 21-year old Swede is following up his 13-goal, 32-point performance from a season ago with a breakthrough campaign in which he has solidified himself as one of the most exciting young defensemen in the game. His 25:13 average ice time ranks 12th in the league, he leads Phoenix in scoring, and earlier this week Corey Masiak of NHL.com tabbed him as a potential Norris Trophy finalist. Ekman-Larsson has a hard, accurate shot from the point and has held together well in his own end while matching up against the opposition’s top players.

A fist shake goes to: Phoenix’s injuries. Well, more accurately, the injury to Radim Vrbata. Phoenix’s deadliest sniper a year ago with a career-high 35 goals, news broke yesterday that what was originally thought of as a bone bruise is actually a fractured foot. Vrbata, who suffered the injury blocking a shot on February 16, will miss his eleventh consecutive game tonight, and his status beyond this week in unclear. Not that the Kings will be shedding a solitary tear due to their own injury adjustments, but the Coyotes also lost key performers Martin Hanzal and Mike Smith to injured reserve earlier this year.

Why the Kings need to win this game: With Anaheim’s standing and the way they’ve been on a roll, L.A.’s nine-point hill to climb for a divisional title over the final 24 games of the season presents a significant challenge. Home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs is still a very realistic goal, and there are currently eight teams between 26 and 30 points that are thinking the exact same thing.

Rankings and Statistics
Goals/Game: LAK – 9 / 2.92; PHX – 14 / 2.76
Goals Against/Game: LAK – t-8 / 2.46; PHX – 17 / 2.80
Power Play: LAK – 13 / 18.2%; PHX – 21 / 16.0%
Penalty Kill: LAK – t-13 / 82.1%; PHX – t-9 / 83.5%
Shots/Game: LAK – 17 / 28.5; PHX – t-8 / 30.2
Shots Against/Game: LAK – 2 / 24.2; PHX – t-14 / 28.4
Faceoffs: LAK – 6 / 52.0%; PHX – t-3 / 53.0%
Save Percentage: LAK – 22 / .898; PHX – 20 / .902

Projected Lines – Los Angeles

Dustin Brown – Anze Kopitar – Justin Williams
Dustin Penner – Mike Richards – Jeff Carter
Dwight King – Jarret Stoll – Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford – Colin Fraser – Jordan Nolan

Jake Muzzin – Drew Doughty
Rob Scuderi – Slava Voynov
Keaton Ellerby – Alec Martinez

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier

Notes: There was no morning skate, and Darryl Sutter prefers to withhold starting goaltenders, so the projection of Quick starting for the second consecutive day is an assessment based heavily on Sutter’s quote after the game last night, “We’ll talk on the plane tonight [and] see.” Expect several extra players to take the ice for warm-ups, and unless any players are feeling ill effects of the back-to-back, I’m projecting the same lineup as last night. As always, line projections are educated assessments and not definite alignments.

Projected Lines – Phoenix

Mikkel Boedker – Martin Hanzal – Lauri Korpikoski
Steve Sullivan – Antoine Vermette – Shane Doan
Rob Klinkhammer – Boyd Gordon – David Moss
Raffi Torres – Kyle Chipchura – Nick Johnson

Keith Yandle – Derek Morris
Rostislav Klesla – Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Michael Stone – Chris Summers

Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera

Notes: Line estimations by Jerry Brown of NHL.com. Zbynek Michalek is questionable for tonight after blocking a shot in Saturday’s win over Dallas. He would replace Chris Summers in the lineup if he is able to go. Matthew Lombardi has been day-to-day with an upper body injury and would replace either Rob Klinkhammer or Nick Johnson if he is able to go. As always, line projections are educated assessments and not definite alignments.

Rules for Blog Commenting
  • No profanity, slurs or other offensive language. Replacing letters with symbols does not turn expletives into non-expletives.
  • Personal attacks against other blog commenters, and/or blatant attempts to antagonize other commenters, are not tolerated. Respectful disagreement is encouraged. Posts that continually express the same singular opinion will be deleted.
  • Comments that incite political, religious or similar debates will be deleted.
  • Please do not discuss, or post links to, websites that illegally stream NHL games.
  • Posting under multiple user names is not allowed. Do not type in all caps. All violations are subject to comment deletion and/or banning of commenters, per the discretion of the blog administrator.