12/3 Preview – No Morning Skate Today + Tonight’s Vitals, Trusting The Response, Avs Return

WHO: Los Angeles Kings (13-4-3) vs. Colorado Avalanche (15-6-2)
WHEN: Saturday, December 3 @ 5:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Crypto.com Arena – Los Angeles, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: Bally Sports West – AUDIO – iHeart Radio – TWITTER: @DooleyLAK & @LAKings

TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: The Kings conclude a three-game homestand this evening as they host the Central Division leaders, the Colorado Avalanche, for the final time this season.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: Forwards Quinton Byfield and Carl Grundstrom scored when these teams met back on opening night, while forwards Phillip Danault and Anze Kopitar each collected an assist. Kopitar now has seven assists over his last five games against the Avalanche, while linemate Adrian Kempe has five goals in the same span.

KINGS VITALS: The Kings did not hold a morning skate today, considering the earlier than usual start time.

Should the Kings turn back to Cam Talbot, who faced Colorado on opening night, he brings with him a lifetime record of 7-7-0 against the Avalanche, with a .898 save percentage and a 3.36 goals-against average. Should Pheonix Copley get the nod, he has posted a record of 3-1-0 against Colorado throughout his NHL career, with a .885 save percentage and a 3.16 goals-against average.

With no morning skate today, the lone question mark entering tonight’s game would be the status of forward Blake Lizotte. Lizotte skated in a red, non-contact jersey in each of the past two days, so if he is able to go, he’d be doing so without the benefit of a full-contact practice under his belt. So, with that in mind, not counting on him for tonight, which would likely leave the lineup unchanged if he does not play. Last game’s alignment is shown below –

Beyond the status of Lizotte, defenseman Jacob Moverare is back up with the Kings after he played with the Ontario Reign on Friday. Moverare is the lone extra defenseman and the lone extra skater if Lizotte remains out of action.

AVALANCHE VITALS: Colorado concludes a three-game roadtrip tonight, coming off a pair of OT/SO losses against Arizona and Anaheim over the last three days.

Goaltender Ivan Prosvetov got the nod yesterday evening in Anaheim, which sets up usual starter Alexandar Georgiev to get the start here tonight against the Kings. Georgiev defeated the Kings back in October and carries a record of 2-2-1 against LA throughout his career, with a .913 save percentage and a 2.98 goals-against average.

Per the Colorado team account, here’s how the Avalanche lined up yesterday in Anaheim –

Defenseman Cale Makar did not play in overtime yesterday in Anaheim, with no update yet on his status regarding tonight’s game against the Kings. Former Kings defenseman Jack Johnson dressed for Colorado last night, while former Kings defenseman Kurtis MacDermid did not.

Notes –
Trust The Offense
The LA Kings scored one goal on 39 shots on goal in Wednesday’s defeat against Washington. The 39 SOG were two shy of a season high. The one goal scored was a season low.

It’s important not to get too wrapped up in a game like that. Frankly, 9 times out of 10, the Kings find a way to win that game. Fact of the matter is that they didn’t win it, just the fourth time they’ve come away from a game this season with zero points.

Despite getting just the one goal on Wednesday, the Kings still lead the NHL at 3.85 goals-per-game on the season. When you look at the last time out, it’s one game from 20 and it really wasn’t all that bad. The Kings know that the offensive touch has been there pretty much all season and there’s not a ton of concern right now in that part of the game, despite the result.

“We’re going to be on the right side of those games a lot more often than the wrong side,” Kings defenseman Mikey Anderson said of Wednesday’s defeat. “Maybe our finish was the part we can clean up a little bit, which has been there for the whole year, so I don’t think it’s a worry. We’ll just get back to it.”

You could look at the fact that the Kings controlled the majority of Wednesday’s game, yet still lost, from two schools of thought.

You can be disappointed in playing that way and losing, because when you do play that well, you want to get rewarded in the standings. The Kings were not, and came away from a night when they probably should have won without a point. Or, you could almost take it as a positive, that it took that type of game to bring them down off a five-game winning streak. I think there was a bit of disappointment, certainly, but the Kings also saw the latter part as well. It’s not often the Kings have dropped a game this season and

“I like that when we do lose a game, it’s one that the other team stole from us,” forward Phillip Danault said. “That’s one of the biggest things for me and that’s what I saw last game. We played a B+ game, even some A, and they stole it from us. Obviously you want to win the game, but it’s going to happen and if you lose that way, it’s okay.”

If you look at the month of November as a whole, the Kings posted an overall record of 8-2-1. Really, it was only the loss against Philadelphia that the Kings were really disappointed in, perhaps the only game this season in which they were outcompeted, by their own assessment.

The Pittsburgh game was a toss-up on the second half of a back-to-back and the shot attempts from Wednesday’s game read 73-33 when the final buzzer sounded. A little bit cleaner, a little bit more direct for the full 60 minutes and trusting the offensive instincts that have gotten the Kings here. All important in search of a bounceback performance here tonight.

For the first time this season, the Kings will host an opponent for the second time.

Tonight’s game versus Colorado is both the 12th home game of the regular season and the second time the Kings have faced last season’s Central Division champs in Los Angeles. The last time the two teams played was back on Opening Night, when circumstances were different, at least for the Kings. On that day, Viktor Arvidsson’s eventual LTIR designation was not yet known and the Kings had to dress just 17 skaters due to salary-cap complications. Arthur Kaliyev was suspended and Jordan Spence was in the AHL due to the aforementioned complications.

It was also Game 1 of a season in which the Kings were still finding their way coming out of training camp. Those games can go a few different ways, but it’s a unique night for sure.

“Opening night is a really odd night, home, road or whatever, it’s sometimes a home run, sometimes just a flop,” Todd McLellan said of the first meeting. “I think I said this last year or the year before, you sometimes just get through it and you move on, regardless of what happens.”

As far as that game went, the Kings went down by three goals, before battling back to within one. Colorado eventually pulled away and were the deserved winners on that evening.

Since that day, the Kings have won 13 of 19, while the Avalanche have won 15 of 22.

Colorado enters tonight’s game atop the Central Division with 32 points, while the Kings have the best winning percentage in the Pacific Division, the third-best mark in the NHL. Just one team has scored more goals this season than the Avalanche, while LA leads the league in goals-per-game. Colorado’s big guns have led the way this season, entering tonight’s action with three players – Makar, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen – in the NHL’s Top-10 in scoring this season. The Kings have 17 different players with at least six points this season, the most in the NHL.

Two teams off to terrific starts this season, squaring off to begin the month of December.

“Obviously we didn’t come out on the winning end, we played an outstanding team and we’re going to get them again,” McLellan added. “I would venture to say that both teams have probably improved since that night and it should be a real good game.”

Should be a real good game, indeed.

5 PM puck drop today, before the Kings head East tomorrow morning to begin a four-game trip.

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