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Game Preview: Los Angeles Kings at Toronto Maple Leafs: The nucleus of caring comes to Toronto

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It’s time to crown the Leafs winners of a 4 game win streak

Toronto Maple Leafs v Los Angeles Kings Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Well, if it isn’t the All-Star Game stealing Los Angeles Kings. Yeah, I brought it up again. After Dean Lombardi spent the World cup of Hockey talking about why ‘caring’ is more important than things like ‘scoring goals’ and ‘winning games’ and ‘not getting Team USA relegated out of the next tournament’, he brought his patented technique of ‘running a team like an asshat’ back to Los Angeles, stripped Dustin Brown of the captaincy, lost Jonathan Quick to a hissy fit caused injury, and a 6-6 record.

Good job Dean, good effort!

Nah, I’m just joshing around, Dean Lombardi isn’t the only unlikeable thing about the Kings, there’s - oh wait! I forgot about the time he turfed a guy with a drug problem to the curb and played the victim. Also this was pretty terrible as well.

Okay, that’s it for Dean. He sucks. He’s reason #1 the Kings suck.

There’s the ‘tries wayyyyy too hard’ twitter account too, but they did give us this gem:

It just shows the sense of humour they have in giving everyone ammo against them for 11 years.

There’s the game ops department who scheduled Eric Cartman bobble head night for the same night as ‘Jewish Community night’, which I can only imagine was the brainchild of Trump supporters. Like, seriously.

Okay, I’ve made fun of the Kings enough, let’s see what’s going on on the ice.

LOS ANGELES KINGS AT TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
7:30PM - Air Canada Centre - Toronto, ON
TV: TVA Sports / TSN4 & TSN GO / GCL
Radio: TSN1050 / Sportsnet590
SBN: Jewels from the Crown & Battle of California
(Why California teams get 2 sites but we can’t get a Jr hockey site.....)

ahem.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are currently on a three game winning streak, defeating the Edmonton Oilers, Buffalo Sabres, and Vancouver Canucks by combined scores of 11-4. Is this a sign that the early season rust is falling off, are the kids getting the hang of Babcocks systems? Could be, but these were easily beatable opponents as well.

All signs are pointing to the Leafs being good, but I don’t think anyone thought they’d be awful this year. With a 5-4-3 record the Maple Leafs are tied in points with the New Jersey Devils for the final Wild Card playoff spot, but the Devils have one less loss, so the extra game in hand puts them above the Leafs. Of course the playoffs are months away so focusing on this is silly, but it’s nice to see.

The Los Angeles Kings are 2-1-0 in their past three, with a combined score of 8-6. Losing to Randy’s Ducks (and getting shut out!) was a low point in this short season, but beating the reigning Stanley Cup champion Penguins in overtime and then shutting out the Flames brings them to town feeling pretty good about themselves. It will be nice to crush their spirits. If you want to read about what the LEafs could be facing against the Kings tandem of backup goalies, check out JFTC.

Because Battle of California is on west coast time, and there’s nothing up about the Leafs yet, I can only assume they’ve just waived the white flag already and given up.

Let’s break down the two teams real quick before we go.

Los Angeles Toronto
Record 6-6-0-0 5-4-0-3
Div Rank 4th 5th
Conf Rank 7th 9th
League 18th 17th
Goals +/- 27GF, 30GA = -3 37GF, 40GA = -3
Top Scorer Tanner Pearson, 4 Auston Matthews, 6
Nazem Kadri, 6
Top Points Alec Martinez, 9 William Nylander, 12
Top Goalie Peter Budaj
.912sv%, 2.02GAA
Frederik Andersen
.902sv%, 3.20GAA
Power Play 11.4% - 25th 23.5% - 7th
Penalty Kill 77.3% - 25th 84.2% - 10th
Historical vs 63-59-21-2 61-62-21-1

Oh right, I forgot something important.

Who is Auston Matthews rival in this game? The Kings don’t really have a young stud to compare him to, but I guess we’ll pit #1C against #1C. Anze Kopitar! You’re Auston Matthews rival! Congrats!