Monday, November 7, 2011

Preds to face tough road test in Los Angeles

The Nashville Predators will invade Staples Center on Tuesday night to take on the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings dominated the Predators last season, winning three out of four games in the season series. Los Angeles scored 16 goals in four games against the Predators last season.

Los Angeles made several changes in the offseason. Newcomers like Mike Richards and Simon Gagne have made immediate impacts with their new club, and they still have plenty of firepower with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Penner. Drew Doughty is a young defensive star for the Kings, and does a good job of quarterbacking the power play. Needless to say, the Kings have a lot of talent on their roster.

Even with all of that talent, the Kings haven't gotten off to the start that they wanted. Coming into the game against the Predators, Los Angeles has a 6-5-3 record. Still, they are a team that is capable of catching fire at any moment. There's simply too much talent on the LA roster to be down for a long period of time.

Nashville is coming off of a 4-3 overtime victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night. The Preds have a 4-0-1 record in their last five games, and seem to really be finding their groove. David Legwand has 14 points in 12 games for the Predators, and Patric Hornqvist has scored in five consecutive games.

The Predators will be looking to strike quickly against the Kings. Los Angeles lost 4-2 last night against the Sharks in San Jose, and fatigue may be a factor for them against the Predators. Nashville will want to jump out to an early lead to take the crowd out of the game and control the momentum.

My player to watch for the Kings is Anze Kopitar. He's a very skilled player when he has the puck, and he's very dangerous offensively. Kopitar went down with an injury near the end of last year, which really hurt the Kings in their playoff series against the Sharks. With Kopitar in the lineup, the Kings are an extremely dangerous team.

For Nashville, my player to watch is Craig Smith. He will be especially interesting to watch during the first period of the game. Since Los Angeles played last night, Smith's speed will be very tough for the Kings to defend. Smith is the fastest player on the Nashville roster, and will have several chances if he utilizes that speed in tonight's contest.

(Photo Credit: Victor Decolongon/Getty Images North America)

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