BRUINS (28-13-2) at KINGS (25-13-5)
7:30PM PT, TV: FOX SPORTS WEST; RADIO: AM 1150
BEAR DOWN: This is the first of two meetings with the Boston Bruins this season. The Kings will travel to Massachusetts for a date with the Bruins at the TD Garden on January 20. Tonight presents a definite heavyweight matchup, and between two clubs that rarely get to see each other. Boston comes into tonight with 58 points (2nd, Eastern), just one ahead of the Kings’ 57 (6th, Western).
DEFENSE WINS: The top two defensive clubs in the NHL will square off at STAPLES Center tonight. The Kings, numbers-wise, have the NHL’s best defense, allowing just 2.00 goals per game. The Bruins are right behind, and own the NHL’s second-best blue-line corps, allowing just 2.14 goals per game. Ironically, tonight might just come down to offense between these two defensive powerhouses.
TAKING SHOTS: The Kings have fired a combined 88 pucks on opposing goaltenders the previous two games, but with only four goals and two points in the standings to show for it. In their past seven contests, where they’ve gone a dismal 1-5-1, the Kings have scored a miserable total of 10 goals in that span. The Kings will need to find ways to create scoring opportunities against a Bruins club that is quite stingy in their own zone. Boston surrendered five goals to Anaheim Tuesday night, and has a 10-9-0 record on the road, opposed to their stalwart 18-4-2 record at TD Garden this season. Can the Kings cash in on a visiting Boston club with their shots tonight?
THE LAST TIME AROUND: The Kings last skated with the Bruins on March 24, 2012 in a 4-2 loss at STAPLES Center. Colin Fraser and Slava Voynov notched goals for the Kings, and five players recorded a point. The Kings gave Boston a run for their money late in a season in which their roster would hoist the Stanley Cup.
Voynov brought the Kings to within a goal against the Bruins with 5:14 minutes left in regulation in their last meeting with Boston, only to see Brad Marchand pot an empty-netter with :0.2 seconds remaining on the clock to seal a win for the Bruins.
Voynov is without a goal in the Kings’ last 25 contests. Can he strike twine from the blue-line tonight?
QUICK RETURN: In his two games back since sitting out 24 games with a Grade-2 groin-strain, goaltender Jonathan Quick has been lights-out in the Kings’ crease. Quick has stopped 43 of 46 shots sent his way, and was solid in Tuesday night’s shootout bout with the Minnesota Wild, allowing only a single goal, coming on Minnesota’s fourth breakaway attempt – only to fall as all four Kings shooters failed to score. Can Quick come up big tonight against Boston?
RECENT TIMES: Dating back to March 19, 2009, the Kings are 5-2-0 against the Boston Bruins in seven meetings. The Kings’ two losses to Boston in that span came during the 2011-2012 campaign, when they dropped both contests against the Bruins. Can the Kings reclaim their winning ways against the Bruins tonight?
MISTER 800: Tonight marks Justin Williams’ 800th career NHL game. Williams has 524 points in 799 NHL games to-date with 203 goals and 321 assists in time with the Philadelphia Flyers (2000 – 2004), the Carolina Hurricanes (2004 – 2009), and the Kings (2009 – Present). Can Williams celebrate his personal turn-of-the-century mark with a point or two tonight?
WE’RE DOING IT LIVE: Catch KINGS LIVE on FOX SPORTS WEST at 7:00, followed with Bob and Jim on the live play-by-play call on-scene at STAPLES Center for puck-drop at 7:30.