Game 21 Preview: Los Angeles Kings @ Dallas Stars

Los Angeles Kings (11-7-3, 25 pts) @ Dallas Stars (12-8-0, 24 pts)

7:30 PM CT, November 23, 2011

American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas

Just two months into the season and this will already be the third time that the Kings and Stars meet. The Kings have owned the Stars in recent years and won the first two games this season by scores of 1-0 and 5-3.

The biggest reason for the Kings dominance of the Stars? Jonathan Quick. In the past two seasons, Quick is 10-1-0 against the Stars and he’s 12-3-0 in his career against Dallas with a 1.99 GAA and a .928 save percentage. Whatever the reason, the Stars just can’t get past Quick and unfortunately, it will be Quick in net tonight. 

The Kings will be entering tonight on the latter part of a back-to-back. They beat the St. Louis Blues 3-2 last night with backup goalie Jonathan Bernier, allowing Quick to get some rest and go up fresh against the Stars. This will be the 5th back-to-back for the Kings this season. They are 2-2-0 so far this season when they are put into that situation, but this will be the first time that Quick starts the second game after sitting out the first.

LA has been on a hot streak lately, winning four of their last five games. Mike Richards has been a freaking tear, scoring seven goals in his last seven games. His assist totals have been fine and the rediscovery of his scoring touch has made him the most dangerous player in the league right now. Dallas needs to do whatever they can to keep Richards away from the net. Whatever, Mike Ribeiro did to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the Stars’ last game, he needs to try and do the same tonight. Ricards has been shooting more often this month and it’s paid off handsomely for him. No player in the NHL has more goals than Richards since November 8th.

While Richards is off on his scoring binge, Anze Kopitar has quietly been racking up the points. Kopitar leads the Kings in all the major offensive categories with 10 goals and 14 assists (24 pts, all these are top-15 in the NHL). There have been only six games this season in which Kopitar did not record a point (one of those was against Dallas).

He’s a fantastic offensive player and he plays smart, only 2 PIM this season. The knock against him is his defense. Despite leading the team in points, Kopitar has a -1 rating on the season. Whichever line gets the most time against the Kopitar line, whether it be Ribeiro or Jamie Benn’s, needs to find a way to get the puck towards Jonathan Quick.

Dallas had their best game in weeks in their win over the Edmonton Oilers. They’ve been really physical in their last couple of games, so they need to come out with the same fire tonight or the Kings will control the puck and force Kari Lehtonen to have a number one star type of game.

Dallas will be without the usual, Alex Goligoski (broken thumb) and Adam Burish (broken hand). Brenden Morrow has some kind of upper body injury and will miss this game. Tomas Vincour takes his spot with Ribeiro and Steve Ott

The Kings will be without forwards Dustin Penner (hand) and Scott Parse (lower body). Defenseman Alec Martinez (shoulder) will also be out for this game.

Notes and thoughts:

  • Dallas has to take advantage of the power-plays that they get. The Kings had allowed a PP goal in eight straight games before finally putting a stop to that leak against the Blues last night. The Kings have also been racking up the penalties, going on the PK at least 4 times in 10 of their last 11 games. That’s just as often as Dallas.

Previous games:

  •  October 22 at STAPLES Center: Dallas 0 – Los Angeles 1
  • October 27 at American Airlines Center: Dallas 3 – Los Angeles 5

Series Stats:

  Dallas     Los Angeles  
Goals per game 1.5 3
Shots per game       30.5 26.5
Hits per game 31.5 28
PIM per game 12.5 11.5
Power Play   1 of 7 (14%)  1 of 7 (14%)
Penalty Kill 6 of 7 (86%) 6 of 7 (86%)