The Los Angeles Kings are the hottest team in the NHL riding an eight-game winning streak and absolutely playing lights-out hockey. They were perfect over their three-game Canadian road trip, and now Canada will come to them as they face-off against the Toronto Maple Leafs in their first game of a five game homestand. A win tonight will tie the franchise record for L.A. at nine consecutive wins. It will also be their first opportunity to go against former teammate Jonathan Bernier, who now is the top goaltender for Toronto.
Following a great performance from No. 2 netminder Martin Jones, L.A.’s Jonathan Quick will retake his position on five days rest. Expect him to be sharp. Tonight, the offensive end is where they will need to focus a lot of their energy. Returning home after a successful road trip creates a dicey situation for the home team. They often have the tendency to relax too much and end up dropping their first game back. They will need to focus on attacking the net from the first whistle. Employing an aggressive forecheck could create opportunities and have Toronto on their heels. Also, L.A. needs to continue to work on improving their goals per game average. Since the return from the Olympic break their offensive production has been much improved, but they cannot rely on Quick and Jones to only give up a goal each night. The goaltenders are also completely susceptible to a bad performance here and there.
Although the Kings are the hottest team in the league, Toronto has an excellent squad and they currently sit third in the Eastern Conference. They have a better situation than L.A. right now because of their consistent play year-round. We cannot forget — the Kings are playing great hockey right now, but they also took a month off and lost almost every game in January.
Despite their recent success they need to continue to win and climb the rankings as much as they can.