Game 6 Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning vs Los Angeles Kings

After thoroughly drubbing the Florida Panthers last Thursday before suffering a tough, last minute loss against the Penguins on Saturday, the Bolts (3-2-0, 6 PTS) continue their early-season gauntlet run with a match against a Western Conference heavyweight in the Los Angeles Kings (4-2-0, 8 PTS) coming off of their own sound decision over the Panthers on Sunday.

Both clubs, which haven’t played each other since early February in 2012 (the Kings came away with a 3-1 road victory just a few months before eventually finishing off an impressive playoff run with a league championship) are in the thick of a crowded divisional field, occupying the 5th spots in the re-engineered “Atlantic” and Pacific divisions.

The Kings, of course, have emerged in recent seasons as one of the more successful demonstrations of progressive roster construction, using analytics to support a system that prioritizes possession by identifying the talent to retain and acquire. As much as Los Angeles rode Jonathan Quick during its Stanley Cup season, the skaters in front of him helped their cause, too, as the Kings were among the league’s elite possession squads in 2011-2012 and actually tops last regular season, though the playoffs brought a significant drop-off. Yes, each season and off-season spells a bit of roster churn via trades and signings that the Kings are not exempt from, but, wouldn’t you know, Los Angeles  making a strong push to stay in the top-tier so far this season.

Tonight, then, is another measuring stick of sorts for the Lightning, which made the playoffs and had a deep run the last season it was consistent at driving play. The Bolts have already put up solid even-strength performances against the Bruins and for a good portion of the match against the Penguins; a good showing against the Kings — a well-balanced team with significant, now-established talent up front (Brown, Carter, Kopitar, Richards, Williams), on the back end (Doughty, Voynov) and in net (Quick) that is supplemented by a number of capable role players and guided by a well-seasoned, if quirky, bench boss (who’s various facial expressions are documented and analyzed) — would be impressive for a young club under a coach who is still getting his feet wet in the league.

SEASON SERIES
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NOTES

Rosters

LIGHTNING KINGS
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TB Statpack

TEAM POSSESSION, SCORING, SHOOTING
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SPECIAL TEAMS
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GOALTENDING
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PLAYER SCORING
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LAK Statpack

TEAM POSSESSION, SCORING, SHOOTING 
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SPECIAL TEAMS
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GOALTENDING
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PLAYER SCORING
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Team stats cited from Extra Skater.

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