The Los Angeles Kings entered this week having played more games than any other NHL team this season. And they won’t catch any breaks this week, either, starting with a matchup against the visiting New York Rangers on Tuesday night.
Los Angeles will be trying to avoid a third successive defeat — which would be its longest losing streak of the season — having ended a four-game road trip with a 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks and 3-2 overtime setback to the Seattle Kraken on Friday and Saturday.
Kings coach Todd McLellan, whose team has three games this week as part of a 14-game November, said he can sense his players are dealing with some early-season fatigue, but he reminded reporters that every team will go through busy stretches eventually.
“They’ll get it at some point and we have to be playing them, so we need to take advantage of it,” McLellan said. “At the end, we all play 82 games, it’s just how it’s dispersed, when it’s dispersed and where. There will be times where certain teams are tired and other teams are fresh.”
Kings defenseman Alex Edler concurred that a busy schedule is never an excuse for poor play.
“Every single team in this league, they go through stretches with a lot of games,” Edler said. “Being tired, it’s never an excuse in this league. Whether it’s a back-to-back, or you played a lot of games lately, you have to come out and battle and execute your system. The good teams win, even when they play back-to-back or have a lot of games.”
The Rangers started their four-game West Coast road trip with a 3-2 overtime loss in Seattle on Thursday before bouncing back Saturday with a 2-1 win in San Jose.
New York coach Gerard Gallant said Saturday’s game was the best all-around effort by the Rangers since their season-opening win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“That was the closest we’ve got to that point,” Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller said. “I really liked our game. I think it was a full team effort and the full 60 (minutes) that we were looking for.”
New York will be trying to win two straight for the first time this month when they face the Kings.
The Rangers will likely start Igor Shesterkin in goal for a fourth straight game and come back with Jaroslav Halak against the Ducks in Anaheim on Wednesday.
Shesterkin is 5-0-1 on the road with a 2.33 goals-against average and .915 save percentage.
He beat the Kings in his only two career starts against them, posting a .962 save percentage and 1.45 GAA in those games.
“He’s been unreal since I’ve joined this team,” Miller said of Shesterkin. “He’s been that guy that can win games for us single-handedly, so huge shoutout to (Shesterkin). I can’t imagine that’s too easy of a job.”
–Field Level Media