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Reeling Arizona Coyotes square off against division leading Los Angeles Kings

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The Pacific Division leaders come to town at a point where the Arizona Coyotes are backsliding badly.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Arizona Coyotes desparately need a life-line to avoid slipping too far away from the playoff picture. Unfortunately for them, their next chance to climb up the ledge comes against the team already on the top.

Arizona takes on the Los Angeles Kings to wrap up a seven game homestand that has gone anything but according to plan for the Desert Dogs, as they try to finish with seven out of a possible 14 points.

Matchup at a Glance

Los Angeles Kings Arizona Coyotes
Points 61 (1st Pacific) 49 (4th Pacific)
Goals For 2.59 (14th) 2.70 (T-9th)
Goals Against 2.22 (2nd) 2.98 (27th)
Power Play 21.4% (6th) 18.4% (15th)
Penalty Kill 82.0% (9th) 76.1% (28th)
5v5 Corsi For 56.0% (1st) 47.2% (26th)
PDO 99.4 (T-20th) 101.2 (4th)

View from Los Angeles

For the latest on the Kings, check out Jewels From The Crown

The good news for Arizona is that the last time these two teams play each other will be February 2nd. Considering just how good the Kings have been this season, even February 2nd is probably not soon enough.

Los Angeles is 14-6-2 on the road this season, which is fourth best in the league behind Boston, San Jose, and Washington. The Kings are doing most of their damage without major contributions from Dustin Brown or Marian Gaborik,

Leading the charge this year is Tyler Toffoli with 22 goals, good enough for 6th in the NHL. He's just one goal away from tying his career high total from last year, and at age 23, there is likely a lot more scoring in his future.

View from Arizona

It's not so much that the Arizona Coyotes have stopped scoring, it's that they haven't been scoring early enough.

The Coyotes have already played six of their seven home games. They have scored in the first period precisely zero times in that stretch. You have to go back to Calgary on January 7th to find the last time Arizona went into the first intermission with a goal on the board, and all the way back to December 26th to find the last time Arizona went into the first intermission with a lead.

There's almost certainly some bad luck going on; Arizona's first period PDO on this homestand has been a horrifying 89.7 which, even if an incredibly small sample size, is also ridiculously low. Arizona has been able to put together good looking hockey in the opening frame, they just need a bounce or two to go their way.

Keys to the Game

  • Early Goals - The Coyotes need to do a better job showing up early. And that means putting points on the board in the opening frame. No more chasing the game's first goal.
  • Win the Penalty Differential - Arizona did a good job staying out of the box against San Jose, but they still ended up taking more penalties than they drew. They need more power play chances than their opponents' get to have a chance at succeeding.
  • Stay In the Moment - Arizona can only control their play and their performance tonight. They should not get caught up in what's happened in the past or what needs to happen in the future.

Players to Watch

The Philadelphia to Los Angeles pipeline continues to flow, as Vincent Lecavalier has three goals and an assist in seven contests with the Kings. Quite a change of fortune from a disastrous couple of years with the Flyers.

Brad Richardson tallied Arizona's lone goal on Thursday, and has been highly effective with Shane Doan and Jordan Martinook on his wings. Look for that combination early and often tonight.

Injury Report

Los Angeles will not have Matt Greene for the season after he injured himself in October, while Kyle Clifford has been on injured reserve indefinitely since mid-December.

The Coyotes sojourn on with Mike Smith and Joe Vitale on injured reserve.

Puck Drop

Game time is 7 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Arizona Plus or listen on KTAR 92.3 FM.