Los Angeles Kings (1-1-0) vs New York Rangers (0-1-0)
Monday, October 7, 2013, 7:30 p.m. PT
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Referees: #32 Tom Kowal, #37 Kyle Rehman
Linesmen: #89 Steve Miler, #65 Pierre Racicot
Los Angeles Projected Starting Goaltender – Jonathan Quick
2013-14 Season: 2 GP (2 GS) / 1-1-0 Record / 3.26 GAA / .893 Sv% / 0 SHO
Career vs New York: 2 (2) / 2-0-0 / 1.45 / .936 / 0
Last Game vs New York: 10/7/11 / 64 MP / 24-26 shots / 3-2 OTW
2013-14, Home: No stats
New York Projected Starting Goaltender – Henrik Lundqvist
2013-14 Season: 1 GP (1 GS) / 0-1-0 Record / 4.00 GAA / .875 Sv% / 0 SHO
Career vs Los Angeles: 6 (6) / 2-3-1 / 2.94 / .899 / 0
Last Game vs Los Angeles: 10/7/11 / 64 MP / 27-30 shots / 2-3 OTL
2013-14, Away: 1 (1) / 0-1-0 / 4.00 / .875 / 0
2013-14 Los Angeles Leaders
Total Points: Jeff Carter (2-0=2), Anze Kopitar (0-2=2), Matt Frattin (0-2=2)
Goals: Jeff Carter (2-0=2)
Assists: Anze Kopitar (0-2=2), Matt Frattin (0-2=2)
Plus/Minus: Robyn Regehr (+1; 0-1=1)
Penalty Minutes: Colin Fraser (12; 0-0=0)
2013-14 New York Leaders:
Total Points: Marc Staal (1-0=1), Derek Stepan (0-1=1), Rick Nash (0-1=1)
Goals: Marc Staal (1-0=1)
Assists: Derek Stepan (0-1=1), Rick Nash (0-1=1)
Plus/Minus: 10 players tied with 0
Penalty Minutes: Derek Dorsett (5; 0-0=0), Rick Nash (5; 0-1=1)
Los Angeles Projected Lines:
Dustin Brown – Anze Kopitar – Justin Williams
Matt Frattin – Mike Richards – Jeff Carter
Dwight King – Jarret Stoll – Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford – Colin Fraser – Jordan Nolan
Robyn Regehr – Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell – Slava Voynov
Jake Muzzin – Matt Greene
Level of confidence in projected lines: A. Well, for one, @LAKingsPR tweeted out tonight scratches. There will be some mixing and meshing throughout the game based on special teams time and in-game performances, but the above will represent who the Kings will roll with to start.
Milestones: Drew Doughty is one game-winning goal behind Steve Duchesne for the second-most amongst defensemen in club history. … Anze Kopitar is one point behind Jim Fox for the eighth-most points in club history. … Anze Kopitar is one shorthanded goal behind Ziggy Palffy for the fifth-most shorthanded goals in club history. … Justin Williams has 499 career points (191-308=499) and leads the team with 132 consecutive games played. He is the only King to have played every single game since the start of the 2011-12 season.
-The last time the Kings played the Rangers was two years ago tonight. Mike Richards scored the equalizer late in the third period before Jack Johnson activated down low to score on a four-on-three power play in overtime. It technically counted as a home game for the Kings, even though the game was played nearly 6,000 miles away in Stockholm and the vast majority of the 13,800 in attendance were rooting for native son Henrik Lundqvist.
That the teams faced each other at Frozen Fury matters little.
“In preseason, you don’t really learn too much about other teams,” Drew Doughty said. “For the most part, they didn’t have a lot of their best players playing, and they were on the road for a little bit, like they are now, too. It’s not the same team. It’s a completely different team we’re playing. We’re going to have a completely different team playing, too. It’s going to be a lot harder game than it was there in Vegas.”
The last time the Rangers visited Staples Center was on February 2, 2010, a 2-1 Kings win. Andre Ethier dropped the first puck on Dodgers Appreciation Night.
-It’s the home opener, which means that after the on-ice ceremony to introduce the players, it’s back to business as usual.
“You’ve got to play it like any other game,” Colin Fraser said. “Sometimes you get too excited, a little bit too revved up. It’s not a good thing, right? So you’ve got to stay excited, stay ready to go, but stay even keel, too, to do things right instead of overdoing it.”
Though he skated in front of many of the home fans in the preseason and has already played two regular season games – answering many questions about his return in the process – Willie Mitchell will take the Staples Center ice in a meaningful game for the first time since Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Mitchell has politely continued to answer a surplus of questions about the two knee surgeries that erased his 2012-13 season, and while aware that he’ll receive plenty of vocal support from the sellout crowd in attendance, it’s more about finding a brief zen-like moment in the seconds before the first puck is dropped.
“To be honest, what motivates me before every game is the National Anthem. I sit there, and I grab myself for the last 20 seconds, and I always just kind of remind myself how lucky I am to do what I do,” he said. “I just try not to take it for granted, so probably that last 20 seconds of the national anthem is what’ll grab me. But right now I’m…back at home, and playing in the home opener is pretty cool. I’ll probably slip out of the preparation for about 20 seconds, and then just get back to it.”
The veteran defenseman with 721 NHL games attached to his name articulated the heightened expectations he has for the locker room.
“I’m just looking forward to getting back out there and doing what we all want to do, which is win our division, give us home ice advantage, and take another run at this thing, because we know that we have a real good group. Really, really good group,” Mitchell said. “I’ve played for a while, and it’s probably the best team I’ve been on and around. Probably that can be a bit of our worst enemy, I think this year, is that we all know we have a really good team, and don’t want that complacency, just to say ‘OK, we have a good team. Just make sure that we bring the things that have made us successful, and kind of our identity of our team is we’re a hardworking team, play a heavy game, and if we do those things, we’re going to be right in the mix if we stay healthy.”
His play is also trending in the right direction, according to Darryl Sutter.
“I think he’s progressing. I think that Willie’s strength is being able to read and defend really well. A lot of it is with his stick, and then [moving] the puck,” the coach said. “I think where he’s had a hard time is the pace of the other team when he has the puck, not when they have the puck. I think he’s been fine that way, and that’s pretty much playing the games.”
-Dustin Brown, on the other hand, has “got some work to do,” as Sutter said after Monday’s morning skate.
“He’s got to be a physical guy. Very simple,” Sutter continued. “It’s not about numbers, offensive numbers. He’s got to be a physical guy. I think he’s doing a good job around the net, but he can be a stronger guy on the boards, and a stronger guy at protecting pucks. Also, that comes with playing. He plays a different position than Mitchell…so if they have good game tonight, does that mean they’re on their way? It’s not that easy. Brownie missed all of training camp. It’s like the very same as the two guys with [New York].”
New York Projected Lines
Brad Richards – Derek Stepan – Rick Nash
Benoit Pouliot – Derick Brassard – Mats Zuccarello
Taylor Pyatt – Brian Boyle – Ryan Callahan
Derek Dorsett – Dominic Moore – Arron Asham
Michael Del Zotto – Marc Staal
Dan Girardi – Ryan McDonagh
Anton Stralman – John Moore
Notes: Lines via Curtis Zupke of NHL.com. … Ryan Callahan will make his season debut for the Rangers tonight after undergoing surgery in May to repair a torn left labrum. He did not play in any preseason games. “I think any first game of the year you’re amped up and excited to get out there, but that’s something you have to control and I think once I get that first shift or that first hit out of the way then I’ll settle in,” Callahan told reporters. … The Rangers will play their first nine games on the road as renovations to Madison Square Garden are completed. It ties a 1955-56 road trip as the longest trip in franchise history. The Rangers’ home opener against the Canadiens will be held on October 28. … In 27 career games against Los Angeles, Brad Richards has 27 points (7-20=27). … In 34 career games against Los Angeles, Rick Nash has 29 points (15-14=29). … Though New York ranked third in the NHL with 1,413 hits last season, they were the league’s least penalized team with 9.2 penalty minutes per game. … Henrik Lundqvist has been voted as a finalist for the Vezina Trophy five times in his eight NHL seasons. He won the Vezina Trophy in 2012, the same year Jonathan Quick was a finalist. … Nash is the only NHL player with nine consecutive 20-goal seasons.