Back-to-back games. A coach’s nightmare. A player’s worst enemy. A trainer’s headache. Even the equipment guy is run ragged.
Most of the time the opponent is just sitting back, feet on the coffee table, waiting to pounce on the weary travelers.
While that’s the standard in professional sports, and especially for an organization as physically demanding as the NHL, the Kings have performed remarkably well in the second of back-to-back games the last two seasons.
In fact, they’ve played considerably better than in the first.
The Kings, who play at Dallas today at 5:30 p.m. (PT) after losing, 3-1, in Chicago on Wednesday night, finished 9-2-1 last season in the second of consecutive games. They were 4-4-4 in the openers.
And the season before, when they finished with 22 fewer points during the regular season, the Kings were 6-6-1 in the second game and 4-8-1 in the first.
So far this season, the Kings are 0-2 in the second half and 2-1 in the first.
A couple of updates and a correction heading into the Dallas game.
Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin will replace Peter Harrold in the lineup, and Brayden Schenn and Kevin Westgarth return to forward spots in place of Andrei Loktionov and Trevor Lewis.
That leaves a fourth line of Schenn, Westgarth and Kyle Clifford, all of whom are willing to mix it up with unruly opponent’s, and Dallas has a few of those as well.
It was mentioned in the preview for the Chicago game that the Kings would need to make a decision on whether to keep Schenn and/or Clifford after the ninth game or return them to their junior teams. The Kings can wait until Schenn and Clifford have appeared in nine games before making a decision. This will be Schenn’s seventh appearance and Clifford’s sixth.
This time it's Hossa
Another high-profile injury is stealing the headlines the day after a Kings game.
The latest involves Chicago's high-scoring winger Marian Hossa, who suffered an apparent arm or shoulder injury against the Kings on Wednesday night and is expected to be out "likely a couple weeks," according to coach Joel Quenneville. Hossa was second on the team with 11 points.
Hossa had remarked just last week about how healthy he felt this season.
The Kings are awaiting the return of their own star player, defenseman Drew Doughty, who has been out the last week because of an apparent concussion.
What the locals are saying
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports Stars defenseman Philip Larsen is officially in the lineup in place of suspended Stephane Robidas, and Kari Lehtonen is in goal for the ninth straight game. The Stars opened the season with back-to-back games but haven't had any since.
Mike Heika over at the Dallas Morning News must know about the Kings recent history in back-to-back games because he's predicting a 4-2 victory for the visitors.