View Original Notice ? Kings leave the comforts of home for Seattle
On the heels of a successful homestand, the Kings will seek to conquer new territory in their first visit to the expansion Seattle Kraken’s Climate Pledge Arena on Saturday.
With wins in five of their past six games due to a combination of tenacity and sound structure, the Kings are playing a dependable brand of hockey. They have established possession with strong face-off work, maintained it with steady puck management and turned it into results more consistently, averaging nearly five goals per game in their four most recent victories.
The Kings have also begun to reap the rewards of their improved roster balance. Players aged somewhere between their handful of 30-and-over mainstays and their bunch of college-aged neophytes have made strong impacts, such as first-time All-Star Adrian Kempe, 25, and Trevor Moore, 26, who has nine points in his past five games.
The two groups at opposite ends of the experiential spectrum have also coalesced to a greater extent than in recent years.
“If you’ve had a big brother or sister at home that took care of you and showed you the way, it’s a lot easier than walking around aimlessly, and we get that from our upper-end group,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “They’re strong believers and supporters of the kids that are playing now, and the kids, hopefully, feel that.”
The Kings moved to 13-4-1 against the Eastern Conference, the best mark of any Western team, with their 6-2 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday. That gave them four consecutive wins against Metropolitan Division teams, including over the first-place New York Rangers, the likely playoff-bound Washington Capitals and the division’s hottest team, Pittsburgh.
“Once you start beating teams, playing a couple good games in a row, you start to build some confidence as a group, and it shows,” said rookie defenseman Sean Durzi, who posted a career-high three points against Pittsburgh. “Just the way we play, we have the belief that we can honestly beat anyone if we play our game and, playing as a group, it’s a lot of fun.”
The Kings have had a heavily interconference schedule, so much so that they are facing two divisional foes, the Kraken and then the San Jose Sharks on Monday, for the first time this season. Nearly half their schedule – 18 of 37 games – has come against Eastern opponents. They’ve also played a preponderance of home games, having hosted 23 matches already. That leaves them with 27 away games to just 18 at Crypto.com Arena the rest of the way.
Their next challenge on the road will be the Kraken, who have re-established low expectations for an expansion club after the uncommon success of the Vegas Golden Knights had raised that bar.
The Kraken sit dead last in the Pacific Division, 11 points behind seventh-place Vancouver. That represents the second-widest gap between two teams at the bottom of a division this season.
Wingers Jordan Eberle and Jared McCann have paced the Kraken in scoring.
Goalie Philipp Grubauer was a Vezina Trophy finalist last season, allowing 1.95 goals per game behind a stacked Colorado Avalanche roster. The change of scenery hasn’t been a favorable one for the German netminder. He has posted posted a 7-15-4 record with a bloated 3.37 goals-against average and a substandard .880 save percentage. Those are all career worst for Grubauer, who signed a six-year $35.4 million deal over the summer.
Kings (19-13-5) at Seattle (10-22-4)
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Climate Pledge Arena, Seattle
TV/Radio: Bally Sports West/iHeartRadio