The NHL season is still very young, but it’s already been a roller coaster for the Los Angeles Kings and Nashville Predators.
The Kings and Predators are scheduled to meet on Tuesday night in Nashville, and Los Angeles will be looking to win three in a row on the road after dropping its first two games of the season at home.
The Kings beat the Minnesota Wild 7-6 on Saturday, then came back with a 5-4 overtime win against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday night.
“We’re getting better,” Los Angeles coach Todd McLellan said. “It’s starting to feel a little bit more like how he should play.”
The Predators, meanwhile, opened their season with back-to-back wins against the San Jose Sharks in Prague, Czech Republic.
Nashville then returned to the United States and lost both ends of a home-and-away series against the Dallas Stars.
“A lot needs to be better,” Predators coach John Hynes said.
The Predators have allowed nine goals in the past two games, including six at even strength and one with the opponent short-handed.
“Our commitment to defend and attention to detail is not where it needs to be,” Hynes said. “Our competitiveness, our work ethic, it’s not close to where it needs to be to win a hockey game.”
Nino Niederreiter has been one of the bright spots for Nashville. He scored his fourth goal of the season in a 5-1 loss at Dallas on Saturday.
The 30-year-old forward signed with the Predators over the summer after playing the past 3 1/2 seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes, where he grew accustomed to winning.
“We’ve got to find a way to be more tenacious and be better,” Niederreiter said. “We’ve got to demand more from each other.”
Niederreiter added that the Predators seem to be waiting to respond to what the other team is doing rather than dictating the pace.
“We did a great job back in Europe,” he said. “The last two games against Dallas we haven’t quite done what we’re supposed to do.”
The Kings still have some important areas to tighten up, mainly staying out of the penalty box.
“We’re doing some good stuff defensively, just still too many penalties,” Kings forward Trevor Moore said. “Putting too much weight on our penalty kill and (goalie Jonathan Quick) in those spots.”
The Kings showed their depth after losing veteran defenseman Alexander Edler during warmups on Monday. Edler, who was hit in the face with a puck, was replaced by Sean Walker, who found out five minutes into warmups he was going into the lineup.
“I was just hanging out in the back and I heard Eds took a puck somewhere and just to be ready,” Walker said. “I kind of started my warmups there and just got ready and got out there. Not the usual routine and everything, but I think I handled it well.”
Walker finished a plus-2, tied for the highest rating on the team for the game.
“Walker by far had his best game of the season so far, including preseason, so that’s a good sign,” McLellan said.
McLellan added that he would need to wait until Tuesday morning to determine Edler’s status for the Nashville game.
–Field Level Media