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Arizona Coyotes @ Los Angeles Kings preview: we can't all be winners

A rare matinee game for the Arizona Coyotes as they take on the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Two struggling teams will go into this game. One will come out with two points.

Both the Arizona Coyotes and the Los Angeles Kings will try to get a winning streak going in today's affair in Los Angeles, the first of three pivotal road games for the Coyotes.

Matchup at a Glance

Arizona Coyotes Los Angeles Kings
Points 26 (6th Pacific) 38 (4th Pacific)
Goals Per Game 2.26 (25th) 2.70 (16th)
Goals Against Per Game 3.16 (27th) 2.36 (6th)
Power Play Percentage 20.4% (T-10th) 17.4% (T-17th)
Penalty Kill Percentage 76.0% (28th) 79.8% (T-19th)
5v5 Score Close Corsi % 48.0% (23rd) 51.2% (13th)
PDO 97.7 (28th) 100.5 (13th)

View from Arizona

The last game the Coyotes played just goes to show that there is no problem too big that playing the Edmonton Oilers can't solve? Star defenseman underperforming? Play the Oilers. Defense unable to prevent goals? Play the Oilers. Can't get a win at home? Play the Oilers.

In all seriousness, the collective relief felt by the Coyotes' fanbase over their past win is a testament to how rough the season has been. Arizona is 2-6-2 in their past ten games, and four of the team's 11 wins have come at the hands of Edmonton. This slog of a season has put many Coyotes under the trade microscope, including center Antoine Vermette and defenseman Keith Yandle. Though there won't be any movement on that front during the trade freeze, expect talks to heat up again afterward should this road trip turn into a disaster.

View from Los Angeles

Is Los Angeles finally beatable? The Kings look relatively mediocre so far this season. The offense has sputtered, and apart from their stellar defensive play, everything else about the Kings looks average. Their possession numbers are not particularly stunning, and their goaltending continues to look shaky, if Jonathan Quick giving up three first period goals to the Blues is any indication.

But one shouldn't confuse lackluster numbers with lackluster rosters. Indeed, Los Angeles is back in the Wild Card spot (though one could argue the Calgary Flames regressing has more to do with that). Marian Gaborik is back, and the younger forwards like Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson look to be for real.

If LA's defense continues to play as well as it has, and its offensive stars get back into the groove, the Kings should have little trouble sliding back into the postseason, when who knows what happens.

Keys to the Game

  • Play Rough, but Clean - Arizona and Los Angeles don't care much for each other. It shouldn't be terribly surprising to see the Coyotes throw some weight around, especially given the 4-0 drubbing they received at home the last time these two played. But being physical won't work well if it results in a ton of penalties.
  • Leave the Slot Closed - To the surprise of virtually nobody, Arizona is much better defensively when the areas directly in front of the net are not accessible. The Coyotes need to keep it that way against a team that doesn't concede much.
  • Points, Points, Points - This game is one of those dreaded four point swings, and Arizona is definitely the underdog. If they can't find a way to take two points out of this one, they have to at least get one. There's no time left in the year to leave points on the table.

Who's Hot

Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored the game winner in OT against Edmonton after tallying a goal and an assist the game before against Minnesota. He's still behind the pace he set last season, but the gap is much closer now.

Jeff Carter had a goal and three assists in Thursday night's 6-4 victory over the St. Louis Blues. He now leads the team in points.

Injury Report

Brandon Gormley (lower body) remains in Portland on a conditioning assignment, and Michael Stone (undisclosed) will also not go in tonight's game after a rough hit in the Oilers game. Lauri Korpikoski (lower body) is doubtful, while Martin Hanzal is uncertain after his wife gave birth to their second child yesterday.

Robyn Regehr (upper body) has been placed on injured reserve, and won't be available again until January. Meanwhile, Slava Voynov remains suspended indefinitely for doing this. (warning, highly disturbing). This author is one that would not be sad if Voynov never played another NHL game ever again.

Puck Drop

It may be the weekend, but make sure you're up early enough for this one. Puck drops at 2 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Arizona or listen to it on Arizona Sports 620 AM.