Game Time: 7:30 CST
TV/Radio: WGN Ch. 9 (Local), NHLN-US, TVAS, SportsNet, WGN-AM 720
Fountain & Fairfax: JFTC
How the mighty have fallen. Half of the Stanley Cups in the last decade belong to these two franchises, one in danger of missing the playoffs for the third time in four seasons, and the other literally all but officially eliminated in February. And even while no one else in the league’s heart is breaking for either of these two franchises led by scumbag braintrusts, the Hawks will welcome the Kings to the United Center tonight out of obligation if not urgency.
Entering tonight, the Kings sit two points out of the final Wild Card position at 67 points behind Minnesota’s 69 with Calgary in between. The come in having won in Buffalo for the first time since the late Triassic on Saturday afternoon, but have been continually spinning their tires going 4-4 this month, and 4-7-0 in January. Not helping things is Jonathan Quick’s sparkling .904 overall save percentage in 2018 proper, and under new coach John Stevens, the Kings are barely above water on the possession ledger, which has led to Quick having to do more work, and the results have been on display since. For the season as a whole, Quick’s even strength save percentage is right in line with what it has always been at .925, a tick below the career mark of .926. What he is now is what he’s always been, which is mostly fine.
In front of him, the Kings’ blue line is as usual led by accused rapist/Valentine’s Day heartthrob (according to the league) Drew Doughty, who in spite of being a big bag of shit with hair stuck to it is still having and exceptional year once again. Doughty sports a 54.1% share of attempts while playing some of the toughest minutes in the league, and is also 7th in the league in scoring among defensemen. The other usual suspects are still here in Jake Muzzin and Alec Martinez, though Doughty has spent most of his time with Derek Forbort this season, who has a robust 47 share elsewhere, showing just how much work Doughty does nightly.
Among the Kings’ forwards, this year has seen a scoring resurgence from Anze Kopitar, who leads LA in scoring, goals, and assists by a cavernous margin with 25 goals and 38 assists, with the aforementioned Doughty as a distant second with 41 points total. Dustin Brown appeared to have found brief signs of life playing with Kopitar in the beginning of the season, but has 6 goals since the end of November, and his point total seems to be purely a function of playing with Kopitar for so long. The Kings have 6 10-plus goal scorers in Kopitar, Brown, Tyler Toffoli’s 19 and the wasted potential of Tanner Pearson with 10, but somehow Trevor Lewis has 13 goals, and former first round pick Adrian Kempe has contributed 16 goals in his first year in the League after scoring 23 goals in 101 AHL games, but a 17.8% shooting percentage helps that. But even with a fair amount of depth, the Kings are still in the bottom half of the league in scoring, same as it ever was.
As for the Men of Four Feathers, the news of the day is that our beautiful project of a son Michal Kempny has finally escaped Joel Quenneville’s doghouse and was shipped to Washington for the higher of their two third round picks. The Kempny argument was well worn, as it’s clear Quenneville never warmed up to him due to his propensity to seemingly have one glaring boner a game even though his metrics were excellent and he scouted out to be a very similar player to Johnny Oduya, someone Quenneville obviously loved. There may have been practice habits that not many are privileged to observing that could have led to Kempny’s erratic playing time distribution, but what’s done is done, and mild credit needs to be given to Stan Bowman for getting anything tangible for a player that was brought from overseas for nothing and an asset that his coach went out of his way to devalue.
So anyway, the losing streak is now finally over for whatever that’s worth, so hopefully this group can play a little bit looser and even though there isn’t much to trade off of this roster, at least they can focus on giving teams like the Kings who are still on the playoff fringes a big steamy shitburger to eat for the remainder of this lost season.
Game #60 Preview