A win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday at Staples Center will give the Los Angeles Kings their first 6-0-0 homestand in franchise history.
As well as the defending Stanley Cup champions have played to start the season, winning five straight after losing their first two games, the players believe there's room for improvement. The Kings have allowed 35 shots per game, ranking 29th in the NHL. Their offense has been top heavy with Tanner Pearson, Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli combining for all but four of their 16 goals, and L.A. has averaged 27.1 shots per game, 26th in the League.
"We're what, seven games in, and we should start hitting our strides," center Anze Kopitar told the Los Angeles Times on Saturday. "The last couple of games have been better. We've just got to build on it and stay consistent. That's what it is. You're trying to get to a point where you feel comfortable playing the game and feeling good about your game, and then just try and stay up there as long as you can."
The Blue Jackets are off a 4-1 loss Friday to the Anaheim Ducks and have lost 12 of the past 16 games to the Kings. Before the game Sunday, defenseman Ryan Murray was activated from injured reserve after missing the start of the season with a knee injury. Right wing Alexander Wennberg was sent to Springfield of the American Hockey League. Goalie Curtis McElhinney (upper body) was also activated off IR with Anton Forsberg sent to Springfield.
Here are the projected lineups:
Scott Hartnell – Ryan Johansen – Nick Foligno
Matt Calvert – Marko Dano – Corey Tropp
Mark Letestu - Artem Anisimov – Jack Skille
Adam Cracknell – Michael Chaput – Jared Boll
Jack Johnson – David Savard
Ryan Murray – James Wisniewski
Fedor Tyutin – Dalton Prout
Scratched: Tim Erixon, Cody Goloubef
Injured: Brandon Dubinsky (abdominal), Boone Jenner (hand), Nathan Horton (back), Cam Atkinson (eye)
Dwight King - Anze Kopitar - Dustin Brown
Tanner Pearson - Jeff Carter - Tyler Toffoli
Andy Andreoff - Jarret Stoll - Justin Williams
Kyle Clifford - Mike Richards - Jordan Nolan
Jake Muzzin - Drew Doughty
Robyn Regehr - Alec Martinez
Brayden McNabb - Matt Greene
Suspended: Slava Voynov
Injured: Trevor Lewis (upper body), Marian Gaborik (upper body)
Status report: Atkinson will not play two days after he was accidently cut below the eye by Ducks forward Ryan Kesler's skate. Dano is back in the Blue Jackets lineup after missing four games with a lower-body injury.
Who's hot: Quick is 4-0-1 with a 0.97 goals-against average since losing the season opener to the San Jose Sharks. He's 5-1-0 with a 1.33 GAA in his past six games against Columbus … Johansen has at least a point in each of his games and leads the Blue Jackets with 10 goals.