There's no rest for the wicked as the Wild have moved on down the road to the Staples Center in Los Angeles to do battle with the winless Kings, mere hours after delivering Arizona its first loss. Though the Wild are undefeated, this will be a difficult game against a team that is expected to have a rebound season and hasn't quite found its game yet. Frustration is mounting on a group that includes an excellent cast featuring Jonathon Quick, Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar and old friend, Marion Gaborik. The Wild enter with league-leading goal scorer Zach Parise riding a 3-game goal streak, but also have not been able to put together a full 60 minutes of their brand of hockey. Something has to give tonight at the Staples Center - will it be the undefeated visitors or the home team that finds a way?
The Kings struggles have come on both ends of the ice, with the offense having scored only 2 goals through 3 games and the defense allowing a lofty 4.0 GAA. Milan Lucic has struggled to find his place on the team early in the season, and the Kings offense has had difficulty maintaining the offensive zone. The Kings also play a big brand of hockey, relying on size and physicality to set the tone in the game. So far, smaller and faster teams such as the Coyotes and Canucks have been able to expose their lack of speed to take advantage and score goals. And with the offense sputtering, a mere 5 players have posted a single point on the Kings roster - none have multiple points.
The Wild are also built to take the speed advantage, but will have to find its legs after playing a very fast game last night in Arizona that featured a race-track 3rd period in which the Wild had to kill 4 penalties. The Wild have also been pushed around by big physical teams in the past, and need to focus on maintaining their brand of hockey to be successful against the Kings. The only roster adjustment from last night's game comes as Christian Folin draws back into the lineup for Nate Prosser. As promised, Darcy Keumper gets his first start of the season with Devan Dubnyk backing up.
The game has a very late start tonight, coming at 9:30 local time and follows the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers game, which has the potential to overlap with the start of the game in LA. Be patient if you are seeing college hockey. Look for the game thread to open around 9. Let's go Wild!