Today's preview is pretty brief because a)this schedule is nuts, b)I'm tired, and c)ugh, the Coyotes - sorry.
Los Angeles Kings v Phoenix Coyotes (Jobing.com arena)
Time: 7.00 Pacific
TV: Fox Sports West
Enemy Reading: Five for Howling
Coyotes (projected) lineup:
Injured: Vrbata (foot), Schlemko (shoulder), Lombardi (upper body), Bissonnette (repetitive stress injury from making countless unfunny jokes disrespecting women)
Kings (projected) lineup:
Injured: Greene (back), Mitchell (knee)
- The Kings got their first win of the season against the Coyotes on January 26, and haven't seen them since. After that game, the 2011-12 Pacific Division Champs were 1-4. Now, they're a much prettier 12-10-3, with 27 points, although they only have 9 ROW (compared to 13 for the Kings, 14-8-2, with 30 points and a game in hand). I'm not going to reference Conference standings anymore, because having a zillion teams with different records and the same number of points fills me with Gary Bettman-related rage.
- Fun with numbers: Phoenix is currently League average in both scoring goals and preventing goals, sitting 14th with 2.76 g/g and 17th with 2.80 ga/g, and sporting an even goal differential. Their power play is clicking at 16.0% (17th - slightly worse than the Kings), and the penalty kill is at 83.5% (9th - slightly better than the Kings).
- Quick, without looking - who is the Phoenix Coyotes' leading scorer? Why, it's Oliver Ekman-Larsson! The 21-year-old defenceman is having a pretty sterling season so far, numbers-wise, although I haven't watched enough of the Coyotes lately to make an informed comment on his defensive performance.
- The Coyotes' leading goal-scorer is Martin "one time I tried to kill Dustin Brown for basically no reason" Hanzal, with 7. The team is currently without last year's leading goal-scorer, Radim Vrbata.
- Alec Martinez had a real rough game against the Flames, including getting straight-up victimized on the goal by Mikael Backlund. It's possible Davis Drewiske draws in for him tonight, although, either way, that bottom pairing is still the stuff of mild nightmares. Come back, Willie Mitchell, come baaaack.
- The rest of the defence was a nice contrast last night. Slava Voynov made a beauty pass on the Dustin Brown goal, Jake Muzzin made a beauty pass on the Jarret Stoll goal, and Drew Doughty provided laughter to countless watchers with his continued inability to hit an actual, literal empty net. (I'm kidding. He was fairly excellent in his defence last night, including a great job on the penalty kill.) And behind them all, Jonathan Quick played what I would argue was his best game of the season.
- Jeff Carter didn't score a goal last night. Was that as weird for you as it was for me? He was still good, though. Poor Scott Howson.
- Dustin Penner: hustlin' last night. Didn't get the points to show for it, but at least he got this very important shout-out.
- Rob Klinkhammer is the best name in hockey and potentially in all of sports. I will fight you if you disagree.
- Go Kings Go
- ETA: Oh yeah, I forgot to write about The Struggles of Mike Smith. Well, the regression hasn't been pretty for our old friend. He hasn't been flat-out terrible, but his EV SV% is a .902 right now, which is quite the fall from grace - currently, he's making fewer saves at 5v5 than such luminaries as Sergei Bobrovsky, Mathieu Garon, Ondrej Pavelec, Devan Dubnyk, and, umm, Peter Budaj. We've noted all season long that Jonathan Quick has been drastically under-performing, and he's still been slightly better than Smith.