The Los Angeles Kings will be traveling to Dallas after today's practice to begin their three-game road trip. During their trip, they will take on the Dallas Stars (7-2-0), Phoenix Coyotes (3-3-2) and Colorado Avalanche (6-2-0).
The Kings are coming off a 3-0 shutout loss to New Jersey. Although many fans understand the decision to start Jonathan Bernier in goal last night, there are still others who feel coach Terry Murray needs to do a better job of understanding when to give Jonathan Quick a rest.
It is expected that Murray will start Quick in goal against Dallas on Thursday and Phoenix on Saturday, but he'll then have to make a decision on whether or not to start him against Colorado on Sunday.
Drew Doughty did practice in a black jersey this morning according to Kings' broadcaster Jim Fox. However, his availability for the upcoming trip is unknown.
Los Angeles, which is second in the Pacific Division with a 5-2-1 record, trails Dallas by three points.
Los Angeles and Dallas will be facing each other for the second time in a week. The difference this time is that goalie Kari Lehtonen will be in the net for Dallas.
The Stars were playing their second game of a back-to-back when they matched against the Kings last weekend and coach Glen Gulutzan opted to rest Lehtonen.
Lehtonen has a spotless 7-0-0 record with a GAA of 1.54. His counterpart will be a rested Jonathan Quick, who brings with him a 5-0-1 record and three consecutive shutouts.
Although Lehtonen is without a loss, he has allowed 11 goals in seven games. This will be Dallas' first home game since Oct. 15, when the team beat Columbus, 4-2.
The Kings will come out firing, and Quick will continue to be on top of his game. It would be unfair to expect another shutout from Quick, but this is a game in which something has to break.
Lehtonen undefeated, Quick has three consecutive shutouts and players from both teams will bring the intensity that may resemble that of a playoff game.
Phoenix is currently bringing up the rear of the Pacific Division with a 3-3-2 record, and have only one win in its last four games. The Coyotes will have the opportunity to head into their game against the Kings with some momentum when they play New Jersey on Thursday night at home.
The Coyotes are led by veteran Shane Doan (four goals and five assists in eight games). Doan hit a milestone in Tuesday night's game against Dallas by notching his 300th career goal.
Phoenix has hosted Los Angeles once already this season, but were shutout 2-0.
As usual, the fans in Phoenix are not showing up. The team ranks near the bottom in average capacity (61.7 percent) and attendance (10,564). Most minor league hockey games have a louder arena than what the players in Phoenix get, and it really is a shame.
The marketing department for the Coyotes have tagged this particular game "Howl-O-Ween," in which kids nine and under get in free with the purchase of a full-priced ticket.
As bad as the Kings have been over the years, they never started to give away tickets so I congratulate the Phoenix organization in that regard.
If there is a trap game for the Kings on the trip, this would be it. It's tough to get fired up in empty buildings and to have this game sandwiched in between Dallas and Colorado may lull the team to sleep a bit.
Colorado is off to a hot start, racking up six wins in its first eight games. Each of the wins have come on the road (6-0-0), and only two of the games have been at home (0-2-0).
Ryan O'Reilly has gotten off to a great start passing the puck. Through eight games, he is the Avalanche's points leader with seven. All of his points have come from assists.
Right Winger David Jones leads the team with five goals and has scored on nearly 28 percent of his shot attempts.
This will be the first meeting between the two clubs in the regular season. They did clash twice in the preseason, splitting the two games.
Considering this will be the second game in two days for Los Angeles, one can expect coach Terry Murray to start Jonathan Bernier in goal. This will be a crucial game early on for Bernier, especially if Los Angeles wins its first two games of the road trip.
A third consecutive loss by the backup goaltender may have not only Murray scratching his head, but Bernier may also start to lose the confidence of the fans.