Phoenix Coyotes at Los Angeles Kings Preview: There May Be Blood

Stephen Dunn

Bitter rivals meet for the first time in the '13-'14 season when the Coyotes travel to La-La Land to take on their Pacific division nemesis Kings.

Phoenix Coyotes (6-2-2, 14 Points)

The Coyotes will enter action tonight on the NHL's second longest point streak having earned at least one in each of their last seven games, going 5-0-2 in that stretch (only San Jose is better at the moment with points in all nine of their games).  The latest game was Tuesday night's 4-2 victory over the Flames.  The Coyotes controlled the majority of possession against Calgary, but a couple of mental miscues and defensive breakdowns cost them another lead in the third period.  But the resiliency that may have been missing earlier this season on the road returned and the Coyotes got the final two goals and held on.

They will go into L.A. playing strong hockey and you can bet they have had this game circled on their calendars since the preseason (or least all the fans have).  The Coyotes and Kings are currently engaged in one of the league's better rivalries and will meet for the first time this season.  The Coyotes went 2-3-0 against the Kings last season after being eliminated by Los Angeles in the Western Conference Finals to end their 2012 campaign.  While all divisional games are important, the tilts with L.A. have seemed to bring added physicality the last few seasons.  "They're a big, strong team that you got to make sure you're competing in the right areas and taking care of the puck," said coach Dave Tippett in his pregame presser Wednesday.

Los Angeles Kings (6-4-0, 12 Points)

The Kings had been rolling, winning 5 of 6 games before stumbling a bit Monday night against Calgary, losing 3-2 at home.  They gave up the game winning goal with under a minute left in the third period, and even more concerning was that Calgary scored all 3 goals on the power play.

The Kings forwards have been having an interesting year so far.  They have 4 players with at least 6 points, but two of them (Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards) have yet to score a goal to go along with their combined 14 assists.  The other two forwards in that list are Jeff Carter, who leads the team with 5 goals and is second with 7 points, and Justin Williams who has 4 goals and 2 assists, but half of those came in one game against Dallas.  Dwight King, Jordan Nolan and Matt Frattin (whom was acquired from Toronto in the Jonathan Bernier trade) have all gotten off to less than impressive starts.  Also struggling to start the season is Coyote fan favorite Dustin Brown, who has 2 goals and assist through 10 games.

The Kings are led on the backend by Drew Doughty, who is off to a good start with 3 goals and an assist while playing more than 25 minutes per game.  Slava Voynov, Matt Greene, Robyn Regehr and a healthy Willie Mitchell provide depth and talent in front of likely team USA goalie for Sochi in 2014, Jonathan Quick.

Keys to Winning

Clean Up the Mistakes. Even though the Coyotes have points in 7 straight games, there are portions of the game they can improve upon.  Perhaps the most important one is mentally.  Against the Flames, they played an impressive game for almost an entire 60 minutes, but a couple of brain lapses gave the Flames both of their goals and almost cost the Yotes what should have been an easy 2 points.  They can't give the Kings those same kind of chances.

Get Physical. The Coyotes are a team that likes to impose their will with a strong forecheck and creating turnovers with pressure from their big bodied forwards.  So do the Kings.  The team that can win in the dirty areas like the corners and in front of the net will give themselves the best chance to win on the scoreboard.

Don't Let the Emotions Take Over. There's just a little bit of history between these two teams.  More often than not, the Coyotes have come out on the short end of those moments and have gotten off their game because of it.  This will be the first game since the preseason game when Nolan laid Klesla out and had him stretchered off the ice.  Will this be on the minds of the Coyotes?  Not according to Tippett: "No, I think that's in the past.  It was dealt with and you move on."  Hopefully the Coyotes do and just play their game and don't try to avenge old scores.

Who's Hot


Mike Ribeiro

#63 / Center / Phoenix Coyotes

6-0

177

Feb 10, 1980



G A P +/- PIM
2013 - Mike Ribeiro 5 4 9 2 6

Like the team, Ribeiro is also on a 7 game point streak.  In fact, all of his points on the season have come in those 7 games.  He's also scored 2 goals in each of the last 2 games and is beginning to feel comfortable with his surroundings in the desert which should frighten the rest of the league.


Justin Williams

#14 / Right Wing / Los Angeles Kings

6-1

189

Oct 04, 1981



G A P +/- PIM
2013 - Justin Williams 4 2 6 1 6

He's gotten 4 of his 6 points in the last two games, and has 13 points in 23 games with the Kings against Phoenix.  He also has 4 points in his last 3 games against the Coyotes.

Likely Starting Goaltenders


Mike Smith

#41 / Goalie / Phoenix Coyotes

6-4

215

Mar 22, 1982



GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2013 - Mike Smith 9 526 5 2 24 2.74 286 262 .916 0

Smith has allowed 2 goals in each of his last 3 games after surrendering 9 in the previous 3.  He also has scored more goals than Mike Richards, Anze Kopitar, Matt Frattin, and Jarret Stoll combined.

Sooner or later Thomas Greiss will get another start, but it's doubtful it comes against L.A. this evening.


Jonathan Quick

#32 / Goalie / Los Angeles Kings

6-1

220

Jan 21, 1986



GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2013 - Jonathan Quick 9 516 5 4 22 2.56 243 221 .909 0


Like Mike Smith, Quick has started 9 of his team's 10 games entering tonight.  Like Smith, his numbers are a bit below what he's capable of.  He went 2-2 against the Coyotes last season and is 12-11-3 in his career against Phoenix.

Team Rankings

Phoenix Coyotes

Rankings

Los Angeles Kings

12th (3.10)
Goals For
22nd (2.30)
18th (2.70)
Goals Against
10th (2.50)
19th (17.1)
Power Play %
15th (20.0)
12th (82.9)
Penalty Kill %
9th (83.7)

Injuries

Captain Coyote Shane Doan missed Tuesday's game with a lower body injury.  He didn't participate in Wednesday's optional skate and is questionable for the game.

The Kings are relatively healthy themselves entering the game as Jake Muzzin returned to the lineup over the weekend after missing a couple of games with a knee injury.

Puck Drop

With the game on the road, the puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 pm Arizona time.  It will be televised on FSAZ and on the radio on Arizona Sports 620 AM.

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