1. Sean Avery claimed by New York Rangers off waivers -- least surprising move of the day.
2. Niklas Backstrom signed by Minnesota to 4 year extension. This was big for Minnesota, as it keeps them from being forced to put him on the block at the deadline. Also could benefit the CBJ by removing another goalie from the mix, making Leclaire more valuable.
3. Capitals, Flyers and Bruins reported to be in the mix for Phoenix D Derek Morris, and Philly still trying to make a play for Jay Boumeester.
4. Some big names on the waiver wire as teams try to make room: Brendan Morrison, Miroslav Satan and Gary Roberts, among others.
Nothing else new -- should get hot tonight.
Turning to the game, it is time for the CBJ to turn up the offensive heat, after having been in a scoring slump of late. This has been a series of shutouts, with LA winning the first two outings 3 -0, and the CBJ winning the last one 2 -0 in L.A.
The Kings are ending a 5 game road trip, one of many they will be taking during the remainder of the season. After mounting a rush in the standings, they have faded of late, going 2-6-2 in their last 10, and losing 3 in a row on this trip.
The teams match up closely in stats, with the CBJ ranked slightly ahead in scoring (21st to 24th) and goals against (10th vs. 13th). Special teams fall in favor of the Kings, who have the 11th ranked Power Play. Their PK is ranked 14th to our 16th.
Kopitar leads the Kings with 52 points (20 goals, 32 assists), and has been hot of late. Frolov leads in goals, with 26. Brown fills out their top 3 with 23-25-48. However, as go these three, so go the Kings. The CBJ have experience shutting down top lines, and need to so again tonight.
In net, pretty much a wash between Ersberg (2.49 GAA, .901 SV) and Quick (2.55, .913).
The Kings did not skate today, as the road warrior fatigue is starting to catch up, and they may be starting to see their playoff hopes drift away with the schedule. Make no mistake, however, this is a dangerous wounded animal, and we have been bitten twice this season.
3 Keys to the game:
Stay Out of The Box - 56 of the Kings' 160 goals this year have come off the power play --35%. In comparison, just 19.5% of the CBJ goals come off the PP. Moral: No penalties!!
Jump --Come out fast and hard, lots of energy, forechecking, put lots of rubber on the net.
Hitch-Hockey -- It's simple, when we do it for 3 periods, we win.
Lots of big games in the West tonight, but the CBJ need to take care of their own business, and start creating some gaps in the standings in a positive direction. 19 left -- 10 home 9 road. Breakout is as follows:
St. Louis 3
Calgary, Minnesota, Los Angeles, Boston, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Florida - 1 each
We are still on the 60% pace, so need to keep it up. Go Jackets!!