Phoenix Coyotes @ Los Angeles Kings Preview: Heading Back To LA

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 26: Matt Greene #2 of the Los Angeles Kings scuffles with Taylor Pyatt #14 of the Phoenix Coyotes after the play in the third period during the NHL game at Staples Center on December 26, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Kings defeated the Coyotes 4-3. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings face off tonight for the fourth time out of six tonight at the Staples Center at 8:30 pm Arizona time. Both teams are coming off a loss, the Coyotes lost to St. Louis this past Tuesday, and the Kings lost to Colorado in overtime this past Monday. The Kings are second in the Pacific Division with 45 points, while the Coyotes are in fourth with 42 points. The game may feature Jonathon Quick in goal for LA against Coyote's Mike Smith who is fresh of the injured reserve list. This is definitely a must win game against for the Coyotes, who are falling behind in the division and need some more points to stay in the running for the playoffs.

The Coyotes may start Smith again, who did not look that bad last Tuesday against the Blues, despite the final score. Unfortunately the team will be without Raffi Torres, who scored two of the Coyotes three goals in the last game against the Kings, because he will be serving out his second game of his two game suspension for a hit against Nate Prosser of the Minnesota Wild.

Last month the Kings hired Darryl Sutter as Head Coach replacing Terry Murray on December 17th, the team has been 5-1-3 since he has taken over, including a 4-3 win against the Coyotes on December 26th. King's goalie Jonathon Quick has been great this season, and was named the third star of the week by the NHL.

Key Players


Radim Vrbata

#17 / Right Wing / Phoenix Coyotes

6-1

190

Jun 13, 1981



G A P +/- PIM
2011 - Radim Vrbata 19 13 32 10 8


Radim Vrbata has been on a hot streak lately, scoring the Coyotes loan goal against the Blues last game and two goals against Minnesota last Saturday.


Dustin Brown

#23 / Right Wing / Los Angeles Kings

6-0

204

Nov 04, 1984



G A P +/- PIM
2011 - Dustin Brown 10 11 21 3 32

Besides being the lone goal scorer in the King's last game against the Avalanche, he also scored the game winning goal in the last meeting of the Coyotes and Kings.

Injuries


Phoenix Coyotes Injuries

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Boyd Gordon other-excused 12/26/2011
Martin Hanzal other-excused 12/26/2011


Los Angeles Kings Injuries

Questionable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Slava Voynov other-excused 01/03/2012

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Scott Parse hip 11/09/2011
Simon Gagne concussion 12/27/2011

Five for Winning

1. Score early, score first; like it or not the Coyotes have not been a good at coming back when the other team scores first this season. They need to strike early and maintain the lead.

2. Strong defense in front of the net. The Coyotes have been letting to many people just hang out in front of the net waiting for rebounds. This needs to stop and they need to eliminate the LA's second chances.

3. Power play goals. The Yotes have not been great on the power play this year. In fact they have been fairly bad on the power play, but in they have managed to get power play goals in the last two games. Hopefully they can make this the third game in a row that they get power play goals.

4. Win face-offs. It seems to be a major problem as of late especially with the injuries the Yotes have been having this season, but they need to find a way to win more face-offs, especially in power plays and penalty kills. Winning face-offs helps to control the game, and they need to maintain control of the game.

5. Shoot the puck! I can't tell you how many times during a game where I want to scream at the screen "shoot the puck," especially during power plays but really during most of the game. Its amazing what happens when they shoot the puck, they either get points or they get close. I know they are looking for the perfect shot to go in but sometimes you just want them to take any shot.

One of the first Coyotes games I watched was a game that they won against LA and ever since them I love to see them beat LA, it makes me happy. Hopefully they win this game in regulation, they need the points and I want to be happy. Anyways make sure you check out the gameday thread. LET'S GO COYOTES!!!!

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