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Game Day Watch, 1/31: Los Angeles Kings @ Arizona Coyotes

The All-Stars (and Nic Dowd!) return to the ice.

NHL: NHL All Star Game
They got a picture with Smith, Doughty, and Carter?! Perfect!
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

HOW TO WATCH

Game Time: 6:00 PM Pacific
TV: Fox Sports West
Radio: KABC AM 790
Stream: Fox Sports Go (requires cable subscription)

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

if you’re a Kings fan: Optimism reigns after consecutive wins and what was, in my unbiased opinion, an All-Star Weekend that 29 other cities should be trying to match in the future. Seemingly every other Western playoff team has gone on a run at some point, with Nashville being the latest to create separation. LA would like to, very much! But they haven’t won more than two games in a row since November 26.

if you’re a Coyotes fan: The Islanders are being thrown out of their building (see below) and Quebec is still clamoring for a team, but Arizona is doing just fine, thank you very much. The Coyotes need to get better soon, but they’re doing the right thing and (it appears) getting rid of some valuable pieces before the deadline. This game matters less to them than a usual Kings matchup.

if you’re a hockey fan: You should know the drill by now. Arizona’s not good, the Kings should be better, it’s probably warm outside, and someone is going to get slashed or punched.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

for the Kings: Nic Dowd. The rookie center has only been out for ten days, but in that time, Darryl Sutter has appeared to thoroughly enjoy the way his main bottom-six counterparts have fared. Dowd brings more offensive skill to the table, but he has had a rough go of things over the last couple months. He’s also the best example of what many people think the Kings are: a team with great shot differential numbers, but mediocre scoring chance differential numbers.

for the Coyotes: Mike Smith. If you score from the length of the ice into a puck-sized opening, you get to be the Player to Watch. Smith had gone on a month-long skid, going 1-9-1 with an .883 save percentage before rounding into form over his previous three games (all wins). He didn’t get the break that Peter Budaj did; will it matter?

LEAGUE/WORLDWIDE WATCH

  • Wait, I said above that the Islanders are being forced to leave Barclay’s, but is that really what’s happening? Here’s a primer. [Lighthouse Hockey]
  • Are the Rangers good? [Blueshirt Banter]
  • The Marc-Andre Fleury rumors will continue until a trade actually happens. [Pensburgh]

WATCH THIS

While our own Robyn was participating in the media scrum with Drew Doughty at All-Star Weekend, a fledgling reporter from another outlet butted in to ask some questions.