Kings (17-11-1) vs. Nashville Predators (17-8-6) at Bridgestone Arena, 5 p.m., PT
Five storylines to track:
1. Dropping like flies – Injuries continue to befell the Kings. Matt Greene got his bell run Monday against Detroit and the veteran defenseman has been sent back to Los Angeles for further evaluation and treatment. In a 6-4 loss Thursday against the Blues, another defenseman, Willie Mitchell, left the game with a lower-body injury and is reportedly week to week. Lest we forget forward Brad Richardson, who has missed the last three games with an apparent concussion and is not on the road trip
2. Bernier gets another shot – Kings back-up goalkeeper Jonathan Bernier hasn’t played a game in 24 days but he’ll be asked to anchor the injury-riddled defense at a time when his team could really use a victory. Bernier has had his workload cut back after struggling to a 2-5 start this season with a 3.30 goal-against average. Bernier has had success against the Predators, however, stopping 25 shots in a 4-1 victory Nov. 6 at Staples Center.
3. Change of course – Much has changed since these teams last met. The Kings have gone 7-8-1, Nashville 12-4-3. The Predators enter this game riding a five-game winning streak and with at least a point in 10 straight games. Los Angeles enters with a lot of questions about their consistency. How can they go from a picture-perfect 5-0 victory against the Red Wings on Monday night to such a clunker against the Blues, who came in last in the Central Division?
4. Similar situation – Kings forward Ryan Smyth said after the loss to St. Louis that the Kings might have taken the Blues lightly because they played the night before in Detroit, not to mention they were missing some key players due to injury. They were mistaken. Now, they’ll play a Nashville team that returned home late after winning the night before in New Jersey, 3-1. There’s a good chance the Predators will also be without Patric Hornqvist, who missed the last two games with an upper-body injury. Hornqvist is tied for the team lead with eight goals.
5. Hot commodity – Martin Erat scored two power-play goals against the Devils. That’s a good sign for Nashville, since Erat had only three goals on the season coming in. Erat is second in club history in goals and points, but was slowed earlier this season by back spasms that caused him to sit out seven games, including the loss to the Kings.