Pittsburgh Penguins (12-3-0) @ Los Angeles Kings (9-4-2)
For the past couple seasons, the Los Angeles Kings have been compared to the Pittsburgh Penguins due to their strong young core.
The difference is the Kings have yet to reach the playoffs since the comparisons started, unlike the Penguins who have reached the playoffs the past three seasons, that included a Stanley Cup title last spring.
But, this year the Kings have the makings of finally reaching their potential.
The Kings are 5-0-2 in their past seven games and have posted a 9-4-2 record through 15 games, good for second place in the Pacific Division.
The Kings boast a young team at their core positions led by NHL points leader Anze Kopitar (24 points) but the additions of veteran defenseman Rob Scuderi and forward Ryan Smyth (19 points) have played a key part in the Kings 9-4-2 start.
Both have provided a calming presence in the locker room and the Penguins organization will never forget the impact Rob Scuderi had on the Penguins success last spring.
Scuderi faces off against his former team for the first time tonight but for the Kings organization, tonight will be a measurement of their early success as they attempt to knock off the Stanley Cup Champions. To get where you want to go, you have to be able to beat the elite teams.
That’s exactly how Sidney Crosby sees it.
“The biggest thing is, you just have to beat some good hockey teams, beat some teams that maybe, in the the past, you might go in thinking that you just want to find a way to survive and maybe squeak a win out, ” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said.
” That changes when you start to beat some good hockey teams. You go out there with the mentality that you expect to win, and I’m sure that’s something that is creeping into their minds right now. They expect to win, and they’re playing solid hockey hockey. Kopitar is playing great. Everybody is playing great for them, but he’s really leading the way. So I would say, just beating good hockey teams builds confidence.”
Like many of his teammates Crosby also went out of his way to praise former teammate Rob Scuderi on the Penguins off-day.
“He’s a piece to the puzzle. He brings a lot of leadership. He’s a quiet guy, in terms of in the room and things, but he brings a lot of leadership out there on the ice, ” Crosby said.
“He will block a shot no matter how he has to do it. He’s been to two Stanley Cup Finals, he’s won a Stanley Cup. He has played in the league a long time too. People forget that he’s been around for a while. He leads in that way and he’s consistent. Every game, you know what you’re going to get out of him, so he’s a great addition for them. We had fun playing together, and he was a great guy here, but he’s really brought a lot to their team as well.”
Game Day News
*Pittsburgh will go with the same lineup tonight but there could be some line changes as Jordan Staal is expected to center Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy.
Chris Conner will be scratched for the second consecutive game.
Marc Andre Fleury will start in goal.