PREVIEW: Surging Los Angeles Kings looking to drop depleted St. Louis Blues

By Field Level Media
Feb 16, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; LA Kings right wing Dustin Brown (23) celebrates with center Anze Kopitar (11) and defenseman Drew Doughty (8) after scoring a goal against the Minnesota Wild in the third period at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The depleted St. Louis Blues will try to clean up their defensive play when they host the streaking Los Angeles Kings on Monday night.

The Kings will ride a four-game winning streak and a five-game point streak into their two games at Enterprise Center.

The Blues are coming off a 5-4 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night. Turnovers by forward Zach Sanford and goaltender Jordan Binnington led directly to goals.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Blues, check out #STLBlues rumors, rankings, and news here.

“We definitely scored enough to win the game, but too many mistakes defensively,” coach Craig Berube said. “We’ve just got to tighten that up. Got to be better. We had a couple turnovers and they countered off of them. One was a goalie handle, and it was unfortunate.

“But just in general, a couple turnovers went in our net and it’s stuff that we know what we’re supposed to do and know where we’re supposed to be.”

Injuries were a mitigating circumstance in that defeat. The Blues were missing forwards Jaden Schwartz (lower-body injury), Tyler Bozak (upper-body injury), Robert Thomas (broken thumb), Ivan Barbashev (lower-body injury), Sammy Blais (COVID-19 protocol) and Vladimir Tarasenko (offseason shoulder surgery).

Also missing was their top all-around defenseman, Colton Parayko. He is sidelined by an undisclosed injury.

“We’ve got a lot of talent on this team, but a lot of that talent is in the stands,” Berube said.

In late January, the Blues and Kings split two games in St. Louis, with the Blues winning 4-2 and the Kings winning 6-3.

“We’ve played two games against St. Louis already; they were hard, heavy games,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “They’re going to be that way again.”

This time the Kings will carry some momentum into the series after racking up victories over the Minnesota Wild and Sharks, then beating the Arizona Coyotes twice.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Kings, check out #LAKings rumors, rankings, and news here.

“You gain confidence with wins, and you lose confidence when you lose games,” McLellan said. “Having a bit of swagger, without arrogance is always a good thing for a hockey club. I don’t think we’re anywhere near arrogance, but perhaps we have a little bit of swagger, we believe in each other, but let’s face it, none of these wins were easy, nor will they be moving forward, it’s the NHL.”

Kings center Anze Kopitar carries a seven-game point streak (three goals, six assists) into this game. Alex Iafallo has scored three goals and added four assists in his past six games.

The Kings’ offense got a lift with forward Andreas Athanasiou’s return from COVID-19 protocol. He had been sidelined since Jan. 26.

Blues winger Mike Hoffman has two goals and five assists in his last five games. Ryan O’Reilly has three goals and four assists in his last six games.

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While the Blues have started Binnington (8-4-2, 2.53 goals-against average) in 14 of their 18 games, the Kings have split their workload between Calvin Petersen (3-4-1, 2.43 GAA) and Jonathan Quick (4-2-2, 3.19).

–Field Level Media