After three days of much needed rest, the Arizona Coyotes return on the ice to face the Los Angeles Kings, leaders of the Pacific Division. This is the first game of a brutal stretch of three games in four days, with one of them away in Colorado.
"We have two games in less than 24 hours coming out of it, which is probably not ideal for players, but that’s what it is.", says Dave Tippett . Dealing with fatigue will be a tough challenge for the team going forward.
Matchup at a Glance
|Los Angeles Kings||Arizona Coyotes|
|Points||42 (1st Pacific)||34 (4th Pacific)|
|Goals For||2.48 (21st)||2.73 (T-9th)|
|Goals Against||2.27 (2nd)||3.15 (29th)|
|Power Play||17.0% (23rd)||14.4% (28th)|
|Penalty Kill||83.8% (6th)||81.3% (14th)|
|5v5 Corsi For||56.4% (1st)||47.4% (25th)|
|PDO||98.8 (23rd)||100.8 (10th)|
View from Los Angeles
For all things LA Kings, visit Jewels from the Crown
In an underwhelming Pacific Division where the 2nd place team has accumulated just 36 points, the Kings have been the only constant. Despite another average season for Jonathan Quick so far (.917 Sv%, 2.26 GAA), the Kings have only conceded 76 goals, the 2nd fewest in the league behind the Washington Capitals. Their great defense and puck-holding style of play are the reason why opposing teams can't easily score against LA.
All is not well though, as the Kings have only won one of last five games. Excluding an impressive shutout against the Montreal Canadiens, LA conceded 17 goals in the other four games, pretty similar to a run the Coyotes recently had.
View from Arizona
While the month of December hasn't been good at all for the Coyotes with a 3-6-1 record, the fact that they've won their last two games is definitely positive. Much of the latest success should be credited to Louis Domingue, who's covering for the injured Mike Smith and the struggling Anders Lindback.
The Coyotes have defeated the Kings in both occasions at Staples Center this season. Combined with the 3 wins against the Anaheim Ducks, the Coyotes are undefeated against California teams (still no game against the Sharks though). Wins against division rivals are always important, and so far Arizona has gotten this right.
Keys to the Game
- Another great goalie performance: Shaky goaltending has been an issue for the Coyotes so far this season, but the recently recalled Louis Domingue has been impressive in his two starts against the Islanders and the Maple Leafs. Domingue got a shutout in his first match as a starter, and only conceded 2 goals in 39 shots with a .949 save percentage in the next game. If he can also play like that tonight, the Kings will have a hard time beating the Coyotes.
- Avoid defensive mistakes: No matter how great a goalie may be, plenty of goals will be conceded if the defense keeps making mistakes and doesn't offer the appropriate support. Fortunately Arizona's defense has looked much better after the disaster against Columbus, so hopefully the trend continues.
- Fight for the puck: The Coyotes will have to fight hard for the puck in order to create scoring opportunities. This seems like a great time to exploit the Kings' latest defensive struggles, but first possesion of the puck must be maintained.
Players to Watch
Tyler Toffoli has been very hot this season with 14 goals, being one of the Kings' most dangerous players offensively. He scored 2 goals against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday and was one of the few bright spots for Los Angeles.
All eyes will be on Louis Domingue once again tonight, as it will be interesting to see if he can extend his impressive run of great performances in his first games in the NHL. In addition, considering how important Shane Doan's return has been for the Coyotes, he will also be an important factor for tonight's game.
The Kings will be missing the services of Kyle Clifford, Matt Greene and Dwight King, who are on the injured reserve list.
After the upper-body injury Nicklas Grossmann sustained on Tuesday against the Maple Leafs, he is questionable for tonight. Martin Hanzal and Zbynek Michalek missed last game due to lower-body injuries, but are expected to return. Mike Smith and Joe Vitale remain sidelined.
The game begins at 7:00 PM Arizona time and will be televised on Fox Sports Arizona. You may also listen on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.