Since we last tangled with the Phoenix Coyotes...
IN: Deadline acquisition Antoine Germy Vermette; David "Where the pets go" Schlemko (Coyotes); Jeff Carter (Kings)
OUT: Defenseman Adrian Aucoin (lower body) is out; Tippett says he's 'day-to-day' (Coyotes); Kyle Clifford, Andrei Loktionov (Kings). Simon Gagne (concussion) has resumed skating but is not close to a return.
Enemy Reading: Five For Howling
Everyone knows both teams are strong on defense and in net, but are they really similar? Not according to Dustin Brown:
"I guess the best way to explain it from my standpoint: We played more like them when we had Terry," Brown said. "If we were playing like we were with Terry, there wouldn't be a lot of differences. Now we're a little more aggressive on our forechecks."
And it's true. We can see this reflected in their possession stats.
The new version of the Kings will need every bit of energy and drive to overwhelm Phoenix, who are used to facing a barrage of shots. This will also be the fist time the Coyotes have faced the Kings with Carter in the lineup, as well as the puckmoving trio of Doughty, Voynov, and Martinez.
The Coyotes added Vermette right before the trade deadline, and his line with the captain Doan and the speedy Boedker has been their most productive in the postseason (Vermette has 9 points). 6'6" Hanzal, their best two-way center, lines up with the ageless Ray Whitney (their top producer with 77 points) and the surprising Vrbata, whose chemistry with Whitney resulted in a whopping 35 goals in the regular season. Their bottom 6 features Langkow, whose move down has increased their depth, and Gordon, a defensive center who has won 58.7% of faceoffs in the previous two series. Defensemen like Yandle and OEL known for being active and jumping up into the play, but Klesla has more goals in the postseason, and is among their leaders in points (7 total).
In short, this is a team which relies on contributions from everyone. Fortunuately, the Kings are also deep at every position. Kopitar, Richards, and Stoll have been able to outmatch other teams. They're going to use the same formula as they did in the first two rounds: getting the puck out quickly from their own zone, being strong on the forecheck, and relying on every line and every pairing to be at their best.
Puck drops at 5. Go Moms!