NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 NHL season continues on Thursday, as the Nashville Predators host the Los Angeles Kings at 8:30 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online by clicking here.
Heading into tonight’s game, the Kings find themselves in third place in the Pacific Division. They’re one point behind the Sharks, who are in second place, and 11 points behind the Golden Knights, who are in top spot. The problem with that, is that the Kings are also just one point away from being completely out of the playoff picture because the Anaheim Ducks are just have the same amount of points as Los Angeles, but they’ve played on game more.
On a positive note, they’ve won back-to-back games since being blown out, 6-2, by the Canucks last week. They’re coming off a big 3-0 win over the Stars on Tuesday night.
“I think it was a really gutsy effort, even before the break in Calgary,” center Anze Kopitar said, per LA Kings Insider. “We all felt that obviously the game in Vancouver was an embarrassment, and we wanted to come out in Calgary, and even though we got it in OT, it was still points in our bank, so that was huge. Always out of the break usually starts with a game going a long way, and we had a good start and then we just kept rolling from there.”
It’s important that they bank as many points as they can now because the upcoming month won’t be easy for them. In total, they’ll play 14 games. Nine of those games will be played on the road. There will also be a key home-and-home series against Vegas at the end of February.
On the injury front, it sounds like the Kings will activate Jonathan Quick off injured reserve today. He skipped the All-Star game because of a groin injury, which forced him to sit out Tuesday’s game against Dallas. It’s unclear if he’ll get the start against the Preds at this point.
The Predators, who are currently sitting in second place in the Central Division, are coming off a 2-1 home loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Unlike the Kings, the Predators have and will continue to enjoy quite a bit of home cooking over the little while. They closed out January by playing six of their last seven games at home, and they’ll also play two more home games before heading on the road for a four-game trip. Once they come back from that trip, they’ll play six of the remaining eight games in February at home.
Oh, and in case you’ve been living under a rock, the Preds also announced on Wednesday that Mike Fisher was coming out of retirement to help add some more depth down the middle. You can read about Fisher’s return by clicking here and here.
There’s also a chance that Filip Forsberg could return to the lineup for tonight’s game.