KINGS (4-2-0) at RED WINGS (2-3-0)
Season series -- Detroit swept the young Kings in 2008-09, the two teams last meeting on Feb. 27 was a 2-1 squeaker for the Wings after a pair of blowouts.
Big story -- There's a slight role reversal from previous years, in which a young, inexperienced Kings team would take on juggernaut Detroit with predictable results. The defending Western Conference champions have chugged and sputtered to a 2-3-0 start, getting swept out of Stockholm by the Blues and walking into a Buffalo buzzsaw Tuesday, taking a 6-2 loss in what goalie Chris Osgood called "one of the worst games I've seen us play."
The Kings, on the other hand, went into Madison Square Garden last night one of the hottest teams in the NHL, winning four in a row before losing 4-2 to the red-hot Rangers.
Kings -- L.A. started its six-game Eastern swing on the right foot, beating the Blues and Islanders by identical 2-1 scores. They kept the pressure on a tired Ranger team, especially in a third period where they outshot New York 10-1, but the one guy they couldn't overcome was goalie Henrik Lundqvist, whose 34 saves gave the Blueshirts a 4-2 win at Madison Square Garden, their sixth in a row.
"There's a lot of things you take out of this, but the most important thing to me was the effort," coach Terry Murray said. "That kind of an attitude to bring the emotional and physical game is important not just for a young hockey team but any team in the league.
"It's exciting for us. We're a young hockey club that's really excited about the challenge of going on the road and an opportunity to play well together and just get to know each other. Detroit is one of the better teams in the game so we have to bring the same kind of work ethic."
Red Wings -- Getting swept in Sweden, the home country of many Wings players, was not a good thing, but it looked like the team was bouncing back nicely with wins against the Blackhawks and Caps at the Joe. Then they took their first North American road trip to Buffalo -- and the Sabres blitzed the Wings for four even-strength goals in a span of 6:43 of the second period as the Sabres rolled on to a dominant 6-2 win.
"Everyone says, 'Ah, just wipe it under the carpet and forget about it,' " Osgood told the Detroit Free Press. "But you can't forget about it when you play like that. That's not right. That's not what we're about. We gotta correct it."
Who's Hot -- Ryan Smyth has now scored at least one point in each of the Kings’ first six games and has 5 goals and 4 assists this season. Jonathan Quick was in nets for the first two wins of the Kings' road trip, allowing one goal in each.
Stat Pack -- The Kings last beat the Red Wings at home on Feb. 7, 2008, scoring four third-period goals in a 5-3 victory. L.A. is 3-16-5 against Detroit since they split the season series in 2001-02.
Injury Report -- Red Wings center Darren Helm made his season debut Tuesday after missing four games due to a shoulder injury. Niklas Kronwall (leg) is probable for tonight, while Pavel Datsyuk (upper body) has been confirmed out as of this morning's skate. Kings defenseman Alec Martinez (lower body) did not play Wednesday against the Rangers.
Puck Drop -- The Kings' road show makes another stop in a historically tough venue.