Nov 21, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar (11) keeps the puck from the stick of New Jersey Devils left wing Patrik Elias (26) in the first period of the game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: Avalanche - Kings

Who: Los Angeles Kings (15-6-2)

When: Tonight, 10:30PM EST/9:30PM MDT

Your Starting Goalies: COL – Semyon Varlamov (11-5-0), LA – Ben Scrivens (5-1-2)

The Dangermen: Though the Kings are without Jeff Carter, they are still capable of packing a punch.  Anze Kopitar is having a great start, leading the team with 16 goals and 22 points through 23 games. He’s smart, talented and dynamic, capable of having a big night offensively on any given night.

Justin Williams, slotting in on Kopitar’s right wing, leads the team in goals with nine. He and Mike Richards, as well as team captain Dustin Brown, help give the Kings two pretty good lines in terms of scoring. Dwight King has been a pleasant surprise with seven goals so far; the time he’s been getting with Richards and Tyler Toffoli has been beneficial. Speaking of Toffoli, he’s been pretty hot with four goals and eight points in nine games. He seems to be meshing with Richards.

Their bottom two lines aren’t a big threat to score, but they use their skating well and they will hit you. The Kings have as much talent as anyone but they seem to routinely struggle with putting it all together. Still, they are dangerous on any given night.

The Defenders: This begins and ends with Drew Doughty. He is one of the best defenders in the game, a complete package of defensive smarts, physicality,and offensive prowess. He leads Kings defenders with a dozen points so far. If the Kings get power play chances, his shot can do a ton of damage from the point. STAY OUT OF THE DAMN BOX.

The Kings also have a pretty good young defenseman in one Slava Voynov. He’s right behind Doughty in points (10) and sees some power play time with the second unit. He’s quickly evolved into one of the better young defensemen in the game and one of the Kings best options on the blue line. He’s tied with Jake Muzzin in points; the Kings get more than their fair share of production from the blue line.

Veterans Robyn Regehr and Willie Mitchell are your stay-at-home, physical defenders. They help guide the youngsters and keep a steady hand over the group. The Kings have given up the third-fewest goals in the West and the defense is a big reason as to why that is.

Puck Stoppers Inc.:  This would normally be Jonathan Quick, but a grade two groin strain will likely keep him out until at least December. In his stead? Only the hottest goalie in the league right now in Ben Scrivens.

Nov 19, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings goalie Ben Scrivens (54) along with Los Angeles Kings defenseman Alec Martinez (27) defend the net in the second period of the game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Since taking over for the injured Quick, Scrivens is 4-0-1 with a pair of shutouts and found himself with a shutout streak of 191:19, just short of Quick’s franchise-record of 202:11.  To say he’s been outstanding is an understatement and he’ll be a big test for the Avalanche. The same tip applies when facing any good goaltender: get to him early and get to him often.

How the Avs match up: The Avalanche have shown a bit of resiliency coming out of their three-game losing streak: they took it to the Chicago Blackhawks early and often in a 5-1 win and rallied late to take an overtime victory in Phoenix. They’ve done well without star Matt Duchene, who could be back when the Avalanche return home following this trip to Los Angeles.

The Kings are very good defensively and possess the game’s hottest goaltender, so this will certainly be a challenge for the Avalanche offensively. If any team is going to get to the Kings, it’ll be the Avalanche: they roll three good lines all capable of scoring and a high-energy, physical outfit on the fourth line. They certainly have the talent to crack the Kings.

Defensively, it’s the same as it ever is: be smart, be quick with passes and keep things clear for Varly in front and the night will be a success.


Key Matchup: Avs vs Scrivens’ Hot-Streak

Cower in fear if: Scrivens is still hotter than the sun.

The Kings top two lines get rolling, using possession to find sustained pressure.

The Avalanche don’t STAY OUT OF THE DAMN BOX.

Laugh maniacally if: The Avalanche come out flying and get one early.

Superhuman Varly shows his face again.

The Avalanche get their fast-break offense established.

Silly predictions: Both Scrivens and Varlamov make at least one ridiculous save each; Kopitar with a highlight-reel dish; The Avalanche face at least three power play opportunities because they can never stay out of the damn box; Landeskog gets back in the goal column.

Final:  3-2 Kings

Ryan is the editor of Mile High Sticking as well as co-owner of The Farm Club. Follow him on Twitter to talk Avs, Sabres, hockey in general, or to let him know what a yutz he is.

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Tags: 2013-14 Season Anze Kopitar Ben Scrivens Colorado Avalanche Drew Doughty Los Angeles Kings Matt Duchene NHL Semyon Varlamov

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