The Pittsburgh Penguins will soon embark on their first of two west coast road trips of the season.
Before they can head to the Great White North, the Penguins have one last game at PPG Paints Arena against the Los Angeles Kings.
While twice Stanley Cup Champions in recent memory, the Kings have struggled to find wins since.
The Kings began finding the right path as they should be close to finishing a rebuild of their team and status in the hockey world.
A surprise playoff appearance last season has boosted the Kings stock and put them on the verge of becoming competitors; what will the Penguins have to do to seal a victory?
“What I do know about the Kings is there a team that plays with a lot of structure,” Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said. “Last year, for example, they were one of the best teams from an expected goals against standpoint.”
Sullivan looks at the Kings as a very buttoned up team defensively that the Penguins will have to play smart with.
He emphasized that the play within the blue lines is going to be a key aspect for the Penguins.
“We’re going to have to do a good job getting through the neutral zone tonight.”
The Kings boast a pair of the best two-way forwards in the league in Anze Kopitar and Phillip Danault.
Sullivan understands the skill that is on the other bench, but is confident in his own guys and the Penguins one-two punch of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
“I don’t know if it’s a matchup issue,” Sullivan said. “I just think it’s a matchup.”
Ideally, Sullivan is hoping for a simple game from the Penguins as they try and get the better of Kopitar and Danault.
“It’s going to be important from our standpoint that we take what the game gives us,” Sullivan said. “We don’t try and force things that aren’t there and turn into a high-risk team.”
To be simple, the Penguins can find a way to win if they play simple and not beat themselves; the Penguins lost both contests against the Kings in 2021-22.
The Kings have a fun and young team, but they’re not yet at the point where the Penguins should find them as threats.
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