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Game Day Preview #56, Arizona Coyotes @ Los Angeles Kings

we missed you, hockey, please never leave us again

Los Angeles Kings v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Preview: Arizona Coyotes (19-29-7) @ Los Angeles Kings (28-23-4)

How to Watch and What to Watch

I don’t know what you did during your bye week, but I still had to do things like “go to work” and “pay bills” and “feed myself”, which seems like garbage. We all should have gotten the week off, right? Maybe we all could have accompanied Tyler Toffoli, Marian Gaborik, and their significant others, to Cuba, if we’d gotten some vacation time, too.

La Guarida dinner

A post shared by Cat Belanger (@catbelanger) on

After a six-day break, the Kings are back, with a slightly new look. Top prospect Adrian Kempe has indeed been recalled and looks to skate on a line with Anze Kopitar and Tyler Toffoli. Skating alongside those two, against a poor team, is about as soft of a landing that one could hope for in an NHL debut. Kempe’s already being set up for success playing alongside them, rather than being shoved into a bottom six role that doesn’t fit Kempe’s skillset or speed. While Kempe’s play in the AHL has been inconsistent at times, hopefully this will be the boost he needs to take his game to the next level.

Added bonus of Kempe’s call-up? We’ll be able to skip another appearance of First Line Andy Andreoff, who appears to be a scratch tonight.

Paul LaDue draws back in on defense, with Kevin Gravel sitting as a healthy scratch. (And if you missed our roundtable post earlier today, go back and check out our thoughts on which young defenseman will play the most games in a Kings jersey.) He’s been mostly unnoticeable in his two games so far, which is exactly what you hope to see in a young defenseman playing his first few NHL games.

The Coyotes continue to be as confounding of a team as you could imagine. They beat both the Penguins and the Sharks, and then shut out the Flames, but have also let in 27 goals in their last 10 games. While they’re not technically mathematically eliminated from the playoffs yet, we’re not in the business of miracles, here, and the Coyotes are going to start looking towards selling off spare parts and preparing for next season, rather than trying to pad their stats for this year.

Still, though, they’re buffeted by the return of Max Domi, who has a four game points streak going (1G, 4A) since coming back from a hand injury. Despite missing 23 games, Domi is still fifth on the Coyotes in points, with 21, if that tells you anything about the difficulties Arizona has had in finding the back of the net. Their 131 goals for is next to last in the league, tied with New Jersey -- which would be pretty unfathomably bad, if not for Colorado’s terrifyingly awful 109 goals.

After a 5-2 loss to Edmonton, the Coyotes are going to want to take advantage of a possibly rusty Kings squad. While the Kings have won both matchups against the Coyotes this season, they also have each been one-goal games (a 4-3 win in December which featured some serious depth scoring, and a 3-2 game in January, won on a last-minute goal from Jake Muzzin). Two points tonight would put the Kings back into a playoff spot, leaping back over Calgary. Hopefully a new face in the lineup and a well-rested team will work in the Kings’ favor this time.

Projected Line Combinations

Los Angeles Kings

Kempe - Kopitar - Toffoli
Pearson - Carter - Brown
Clifford - Dowd - Gaborik
King - Shore - Lewis

Forbort - Doughty
Muzzin - Martinez
McNabb - LaDue

Budaj
(Zatkoff)

Arizona Coyotes

Domi - Hanzal - Vrbata
Perlini - Dvorak - Doan
Rieder - Burmistrov - Jooris
Martinook - Holland - White

Ekman-Larsson - Schenn
Goligoski - Stone
Connauton - Murphy

Smith
(Domingue)

Opposing Preview: Five for Howling