The Los Angeles Kings (30-15-3) may have missed the playoffs last year after winning their second Stanley Cup, but they’ll skate into the All-Star break with the best record in the Pacific Division. First, they’ll host the Colorado Avalanche (26-21-3) on Wednesday. The puck drops at 10:30 PM ET on NBCSN.
The Kings weren’t even a bad team last year. They had a plus-15 goal differential, while the Anaheim Ducks won the Pacific at plus-10. But this year’s team is already at plus-17; most of that gap is based on the goaltending of Jonathan Quick (.921 save percentage) and his new back-up, Jhonas Enroth (.931 SV%). Incoming left wing Milan Lucic (12 goals, 17 assists) has helped, too, and he’ll play Wednesday after serving a one-game suspension.
Colorado had definitely improved on last year’s performance, but this team is still a step or two below the 2013-2014 squad that won the Central in Patrick Roy’s first year as head coach. Semyon Varlamov (.918 SV%) is expected to start on Wednesday after back-up Calvin Pickard (.922 SV%) plays Tuesday in San Jose against the Sharks. Varlamov has won four straight appearances, allowing just one goal in each game.