Florida Panthers vs. Los Angeles Kings Pick & Prediction JANUARY 11th 2024

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There is no hotter team in the NHL than the Florida Panthers, who have won eight straight games.

It’s the third-longest winning streak in franchise history.

Meanwhile, not yet halfway through the season, the Los Angeles Kings — who are set to visit the Panthers Thursday in Sunrise, Fla. — have already experienced record highs and deflating lows.

On Dec. 7, the Kings set an NHL record with their 11th consecutive road win to start a season.

Yet, just a little over one month later, the Kings are mired in a six-game losing streak that is their longest skid since they had an identical string of losses in October 2021.

“We’ll figure a way out,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said of the losing streak that includes Tuesday’s 3-2 overtime defeat at the Tampa Bay Lightning. “I don’t think our confidence is just lost. You play yourself into confidence.”

The Kings, who haven’t won a playoff series since 2014, are led by goalie Cam Talbot, who has been named an All-Star for the second time in his career.

Talbot is 14-9-4 despite four straight losses. His goals-against average is 2.20.

Talbot, 36, is one of three key Kings older veterans, a group that includes captain Anze Kopitar, 36, and 34-year-old defenseman Drew Doughty.

Kopitar and Doughty are both first-round picks who have spent their entire careers with the Kings – a combined 34 years in the NHL.

Both have won a pair of Stanley Cup titles. Both are five-time All-Stars.

Kopitar is still relevant with 14 goals and 22 assists in 37 games. He has twice won the Selke award as the NHL’s top defensive forward.

Doughty leads Kings skaters in average ice time – by a wide margin – and he is still considered a shut-down defender. He won the Norris Trophy in 2016 as the NHL’s top defenseman.

The Panthers, who beat the host St. Louis Blues 5-1 on Tuesday, are expected to start goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (20-9-1, 2.45 GAA) on Thursday. Two of the Panthers’ key forwards are Sam Reinhart and Matthew Tkachuk.

Reinhart on Tuesday scored his 29th goal of the season and has 11 tallies during Florida’s current win streak. Reinhart is on a roughly 60-goal pace, and that would blow away his career high of 33 goals, set in 2021-22.

Tkachuk scored a hat trick on Tuesday. It was the first multi-goal game of the season for Tkachuk, who has scored 11 times.

That is in stark contrast to his past two years, when he scored at least 40 goals each time.

The good news for Tkachuk is that he scored six goals and dished six assists in the just-completed, four-game Panthers road trip.

“I guess I was just waiting to get to 2024,” Tkachuk said. “I haven’t changed anything except maybe trying to get to the net more. But I haven’t changed my routine.”

Tkachuk spent some of his formative years in St. Louis – from age 3 until the ninth grade. His father, former NHL standout Keith Tkachuk, was traded to the St. Louis Blues in 2001, which is why Tuesday was extra special for Matthew and his family.

“Good for him,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said about Tkachuk’s hat trick and four-game goal-scoring streak. “He’s on a ripper now.”

– Field Level Media

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