The Arizona Coyotes have slowly gotten better as the season has gone on, and they earned their third win last night and now just trail the Seattle Kraken and Ottawa Senators by one. It’s probably a bittersweet feeling for Coyotes’ fans, who want Shane Wright but are also tired of watching an uninspired, losing team. Nonetheless, it’s great for team morale and the younger players, and they’ll look to build off of it with a win in California against the Los Angeles Kings.
The Coyotes will look to get their weak offense going against a depleted blue-line in Los Angeles. The team ranks last in goals per game and shots on goal per game and 31st in shooting percentage. They’ll be tired after playing yesterday, but so will their opponents.
The Kings currently rank 8-7-2, good for fifth in the Pacific division. Despite being fifth in shots on goal per game, they rank relatively low in production, 25th in the NHL in goals per game. Along with this, despite a depleted blue-line with multiple crucial pieces injured, the team ranks ninth-best in shots on goal allowed per game.
Coyotes’ head coach Andre Tourigny implied that we would see Karel Vejmelka in the net for the team tonight. He hasn’t played since November 13th and has struggled in recent games. He’s 0-9-1 on the season to go with a .897 save percentage and -6.66 goals saved above expected (GSAx), and you’ve got to be rooting for him to earn his first NHL win.
With Cal Petersen starting yesterday, you would have to assume that Jonathan Quick gets the start tonight. He’s seemingly returned to prime form, as he is 4-4-1 this season with an elite .940 save percentage and 7.31 GSAx. The team is going to need to wire shots at him if they want any chance of winning.
Anze Kopitar is the Kings’ goal and point scoring leader this season. The Slovenian center has eight goals, nine assists, 17 points through 17 games played this season and has been a crucial part of the team’s success.
The Coyotes’ point leader remains the same as yesterday, with defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere leading the pack with 13 through 18 games played. Lawson Crouse is the goal-scoring leader, with five through 18 games played.
Jay Beagle is a player that the Coyotes absolutely need to step up offensively. Through 18 games played on the season, he has yet to record a point. This isn’t because of a lack of opportunity, as he’s playing 14:54 per night on average, but he just cannot produce. He’s never been a crazy producer throughout his NHL career, but you need to hope that he’s eventually going to get going.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Clayton Keller - Scoring the overtime-winning goal on Hockey Fights Cancer night was huge for Keller, who lost his grandfather to cancer, you can’t help but be happy for the winger. After a season where he has struggled to produce, maybe that is the momentum boost he needs to get things back on track?
Los Angeles: Mikey Anderson - Do not, and I can’t stress this enough, do not underestimate Anderson. He has zero points through 17 games played this season, but he ranks 16th in the entire NHL in wins above replacement level (WAR) due to his elite defensive presence. It’ll be a hassle for the Coyotes to get much going when he’s on the ice.
Arizona: Anton Strålman (OUT - Lower-Body), Andrew Ladd (IR-NR - COVID), Carter Hutton (IR - Lower-Body), Johan Larsson (IR - COVID), Christian Fischer (IR - Upper-Body), Nick Schmaltz (IR - Upper-Body), Conor Timmins (IR - Knee), Dmitrij Jaškin (IR - Knee)
Los Angeles: Drew Doughty (LTIR - Knee), Sean Walker (IR - Knee), Quinton Byfield (IR - Ankle), Akil Thomas (IR-NR - Undisclosed)
The game will be at Staples Center at 8 PM on BSAZ+, BSW, and 620 AM.