The Nashville Predators (13-5-2) play host tonight to the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings (11-6-4).
This marks the first meeting between the two Western Conference teams and will be the only time the Kings make their way to Music City this season.
The Predators are coming off of a nail-biting victory over the Florida Panthers while the Kings lost their last contest in Dallas to the Stars in what was their first of three straight road contests.
Pekka Rinne is the expected starter in net tonight for Nashville while Los Angeles’ expected netminder is Martin Jones. It is safe to assume that the Kings are holding their number-one goalie Jonathan Quick for tomorrow’s contest in Chicago.
We thought we would catch up with Rink Royalty, the Kings’ blog here on the FanSided Network, and ask them a few questions about Los Angeles and the matchup tonight.
Q: The Kings currently sit fourth in the Pacific Division, sixth overall in the West. The Kings have of course been accustomed to finishing sort of in the middle of the pack of things. Of course it is still
very early on in the season but has there been any worry around the Kings so far this year?
A: In the first 10 games of the season the famed “That 70’s Line” of Tanner Pearson-#70, Jeff Carter-#77 and Tyler Toffoli-#73, was doing all of the Kings’ scoring, accounting for nearly 50% of the teams goals. More recently there has been concern with injuries and suiting up a full roster, especially on the back end. In the wake of Slava Voynov’s suspension, injuries to Robyn Regehr, and Alec Martinez the kings had to sign Jamie McBain. The Kings have already played two-games with less than 18-skaters. In the wake of all that the biggest concern is L.A. has the worst road record in the league, entering tonight’s game in Nashville. The Kings usually get going late so fans seem to be banking on that, though the team, coaches, and management want to focus on getting better, especially on defense, now.
Q: Tonight is sort of a battle between top rookies in Filip Forsberg and Tanner Pearson. Preds fans of course know what to watch when Forsberg is on the ice, what are some things that have really stood out to you in Pearson’s game?
A: Pearson is skilled and physical. Pearson is a hybrid of a scorer and a power-forward. Going into the corners and battling isn’t a problem for the young forward. He also has great instincts for positioning. He knows where to be around the net, and brings a physical presence to high-chance scoring areas.
Q: The Predators of course have been a surprise thus far this season. Have you gotten a chance to watch them this year, anything really stood out
A: Personally I’ve seen parts of a few games. Obviously Forsberg has stood out. The other difference for the Preds has been Rinne. Rinne is on fire this season and looks to be back to top-shape form coming off last season’s injury. With the big bodied goaltender between the pipes Nashville is a different team. The confidence, in Rinne, shows throughout the lineup.
Q: Key things to look for in tonight’s game. How do the Kings win? What has been the trend in the Kings’ losses this season?
A: Do the Kings come out flat, or start the game flying around with emotion. The Kings have a bad tendency to get down early on the road this year, and they can’t recover and catch up. I’m not sure how the Preds matchup but I would assume Forsberg will skate most of his shifts against Drew Doughty, and/or Anze Kopitar. We’ll see how the young rookie fares against battle hardened veterans. It will be a physical game for sure.
Q: Prediction for tonight’s game?
A: Tough to say. I was going to include a prediction in my pregame but didn’t. It comes down to L.A. Being able to beat Rinne. Despite my prediction I think the Kings have a good chance for the upset, but I’m feeling 4-3 Predators in a shootout.