Game Day Preview #28, Arizona Coyotes @ Los Angeles Kings
There is Yet More Hockey tonight.
HOW TO WATCH
Game Time: 7:30 PM Pacific
TV: Fox Sports West
Radio: iHeart Radio
The Opposition: Five For Howling
In case you missed the memo, literally the entire team is broken:
The only players close to a return on that list are Adrian Kempe, who is considered day-to-day and is hopeful to play tonight, and Nikita Scherbak, who told reporters today that he was cleared to play. It’s more likely that his visa situation is taking some time to work out, so we won’t get to see him take the ice quite yet.
And then there’s this, today, about Trevor Lewis:
LA Kings forward Trevor Lewis had surgery this morning to stabilize the fracture in his foot, an injury that has kept him out of the lineup since November 16. He is expected to miss 4-5 weeks following today’s surgery.— LAKingsPR (@LAKingsPR) December 4, 2018
Injuries aren’t the main reason why the Kings have struggled so mightily this season. But at no point in the season have we actually seen the full lineup of players we’d assumed we’d be working with. You’d have to think that with the full lineup of players from day one, that the Kings would have at least picked up a handful more points by now. (If you’re rooting for #LoseforHughes, you probably don’t want that scenario, but.)
In what’s becoming a lost season for the Kings, the only positive is really giving some of our prospects exposure to the game at the NHL level. Should the bottom six basically be Nate Thompson and some children? No, not really. But that’s what we’re working with, so we might as well see what they’ve got to offer.
All Eyes On Quick
Jonathan Quick needed a win. The Kings as a whole needed one, but Quick especially was searching for his first of the season, a way to get back on track after injuries and poor performance.
And boy, did he do it in style.
Quick save on Aho: https://t.co/fuI3rABERX#CARvsLAK #GoKingsGo #LAKings pic.twitter.com/R8RzSl0fLj— Eric (@Kingsgifs) December 3, 2018
Here's the full play when Quick stopped McGinn. Unbelievable. #CARvsLAK #GoKingsGo #LAKings pic.twitter.com/O0T2nZb5wI— Eric (@Kingsgifs) December 3, 2018
Another look at Quick's save on Wallmark: https://t.co/Xarn4qWIno#CARvsLAK #GoKingsGo #LAKings pic.twitter.com/M9JN9mvxkq— Eric (@Kingsgifs) December 3, 2018
What remains to be seen for tonight is whether that is what we can go back to expecting from Quick on a near-nightly basis, or if that was the kind of extraordinary performance he pulls out a few times a season where he stands on his head for the full 60 minutes.
Of course we’re hoping it’s the former, and that our MVP is back to top form. He’ll get more than his fair share of chances to prove it tonight, too. The Coyotes are fairly middle-of-the-pack in the league in terms of shots per game; they’re averaging 31.3 shots currently. While that’s well below the 38.7 that the Carolina Hurricanes average, the Coyotes still boast a bevy of talented young players who are eager to prove themselves.
Fun fact! Who has the best penalty kill in the league? (We know it’s not the Kings.)
It’s the Coyotes! They’re successful 89.7% of the time, over the whole of the season to date. And that’s no fluke — even if we look at just the past ten games for the Coyotes, they’re third in the league at 87.1%. They’re even better on the road, with a 90.3% kill rate. Yikes.
No, the Kings’ power play isn’t exactly anything special, and hoping for it to break through to be a game changer is, well, quite often futile. But if the Kings find themselves in a hole that they need to stagger out of, they’re going to have to focus on that even strength play, because the power play may not save them.
The Coyotes come into Los Angeles on a three-game winning streak, including a 3-0 shutout win over the Nashville Predators. That one gave rookie goaltender Adin Hill his first career shutout. The 22-year old has bounced around in Arizona’s system between the NHL, AHL, and ECHL since his first full pro season in 2016-17 and is putting up fantastic numbers in a very small sample size this year. He’s played two full games this season and has allowed one goal. He’s also played about 30 minutes in relief, where he allowed exactly zero goals.
You may also remember Hill from his game against the Kings last season, where he collected his first career win in a shootout:
With the young goaltender having his first career win and first career shutout under his belt already, perhaps the Kings will avoid the “we got beat by the new kid” adventure they seemingly always go on when they face a rookie in net.