Kings-Red Wings Preview
The Los Angeles Kings are already returning to the playoffs.
The Detroit Red Wings could use more consistent scoring in their
quest to reach the postseason.
The Red Wings attempt to move into playoff position by building
on their best offensive performance in a month Wednesday night when
they go for a fourth straight home win over the Kings.
Los Angeles (26-15-5) is headed to the playoffs, with only
seeding to play for in its final two games. The reigning Stanley
Cup champions are tied with San Jose for fourth in the Western
Conference, one point ahead of St. Louis. The Kings hold the
tiebreaker on both teams.
Detroit (21-16-8) sits ninth in the conference, one point back
of Columbus for the eighth and final playoff position and two in
front of Dallas.
The Red Wings have a game in-hand on both teams, as they look to
extend the franchise’s postseason streak to 22 years – the first
without Steve Yzerman or Nicklas Lidstrom as a captain.
“Of course, taking over the captaincy, it means a lot to me for
this team to do well,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “We’ve been doing
good the past 21 seasons and we want to keep that going.”
The Red Wings are trying to build some momentum after beating
Phoenix 4-0 on Monday, severely denting the Coyotes’ chances of
reaching the playoffs. It was Detroit’s highest scoring output
since a 5-1 win at Anaheim on March 22.
The offensive struggles have increased the pressure on Jimmy
Howard, who is doing his part with a 1.77 goals-against average
during a 6-5-3 stretch that started with that win over the Ducks.
He owns a 1.25 GAA over the last seven games, but the Wings are
Coach Mike Babcock was asked if Howard was good enough to carry
the offensively challenged team.
“He has to,” he said.
Johan Franzen is giving Detroit some scoring punch, netting five
goals in five games after scoring twice against the Coyotes.
The Red Wings haven’t had a problem finding the net against the
Kings at home, scoring 15 goals while winning the last three
matchups at Joe Louis Arena. That includes a 3-2 victory thanks in
large part to a season-best 45 saves from Howard on Feb. 10.
Howard stopped 27 shots, but gave up a pair of third-period
goals in a 2-1 defeat at Los Angeles on Feb. 27.
The Kings are trying to avoid a sixth straight road loss for the
first time since Feb. 25-March 14, 2009. They lost as the visitor
Tuesday, never recovering from allowing two first-period goals to
fall 2-1 at Minnesota.
“We didn’t play three periods. We didn’t deserve to win the
game,” said captain Dustin Brown, who didn’t even get a shot on
goal after scoring twice in Sunday’s 4-3 overtime win against the
Brown was suspended Wednesday for the final two games of the
season for elbowing Wild forward Jason Pominville on Tuesday
Jeff Carter has two goals and two assists over the past two
games, netting Los Angeles’ goal against the Wild after scoring
with 51 seconds left in OT on Sunday.
The right wing, fourth in the NHL with 26 goals, has three
scores and three assists in four meetings with Detroit as a member
of the Kings.
Anze Kopitar has found the net once in each of the last three
games versus the Red Wings, but enters this meeting on a 14-game