DETROIT – Tonight’s game has some significance for the defending Stanley Cup champions as it does for the Red Wings, who are fighting for their playoff lives.
While Los Angeles has clinched a playoff berth, the Kings are seeking to lockup home-ice for the first-round of the postseason. Certainly a 2-1 loss at Minnesota on Tuesday didn’t help their cause, so the Red Wings can expect a difficult game against Los Angeles at Joe Louis Arena.
“We want to get started on time. Playing back-to-backs earlier in the year I think it’s hard, but once you get playing I don’t think it’s that big of a deal,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “It’s an important game for us, we’re very aware of that.”
The Kings are one of the bigger, more physical types of teams in the Western Conference that can cause match-up problems for the Red Wings.
“They’re a big strong team and in order for us to be successful against them we have to be physical on them in the offensive zone,” Babcock said. “Get back above them in a hurry and we’re going to have to be hard on their goaltender.”
The Kings are 100-27-13 all-time when Anze Kopitar scores a goal. And while he hasn’t scored in the last 14 games, the Red Wings know how dangerous the 25-year-old NHL center can be.
“He’s always hungry to make plays or to score goals,” Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson said. “I don’t think those things affect him too much. Not from what I know. He’s a guy who works hard and hopefully we’re going to shut him down tonight. But you always have to be aware of him.”
One difference tonight for Kopitar is the likelihood that he might be without his right wing, Dustin Brown, who had an afternoon hearing with the league office following his hit on Minnesota’s Jason Pominville. Kopitar finished the game on a line with Justin Williams and Jeff Carter.
PLAYER TO WATCH
G JONATHAN QUICK – After sitting on Tuesday’s game at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Jonathan Quick will be back in the Kings’ lineup against the Red Wings. The veteran goalie is 4-0-1 in his last five games with a 1.72 goals-against average and .931 save percentage. With back-to-back games this season, Quick, who had started six straight for the Kings, rested will Jonathan Bernier faced the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday. … The road hasn’t been too kind to Quick, especially in his last four road starts where he has allowed 13 goals on 125 shots while going 0-2-2. … Since last season, the Red Wings have also roughed up Quick, scoring 16 goals on 115 shots against the defending Conn Symthe winner, and slapping him with a 1-3-0 record in that time.
Season Series: 1-1-0
2011-12 Season Series: 3-1-0
All-Time Series Season: 81-79-27-2
Los Angeles’ Season Record: 26-15-5
Top Scorer vs. Red Wings: Anze Kopitar – 3 Goals, 3 Assist in 6 Games.
Red Wings’ Top Scorer – Henrik Zetterberg – 3 Goals, 4 Assists in 6 Games.
Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose
Tickets to this game and Thursday’s regular-season finale at The Joe are currently available for purchase at the JLA box office (313-396-7575), all Ticketmaster (800-745-3000) outlets, and online at DetroitRedWings.com.
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