Preview (Kings @ Coyotes): The best of times are the hardest of times
Los Angeles have quite the test ahead of them right when they are building some momentum.
How to Watch
Game Time: 6 p.m. Pacific Time
TV: Fox Sports West, Fox Sports Arizona, ESPN+ (Go here for more information on subscribing)
Radio: iHeart Radio
The Opposition: Five For Howling
What to Watch
The road to where the Los Angeles Kings find themselves in a deja vu of sorts while on the pursuit of a four-game win streak against the Arizona Coyotes today.
You don’t need to dig far back to find the last time this occurred. It’s not like the Kings are navigating the historic woods to rival the 2018-19 Tampa Bay Lightning that won 62 games.
But the last time the team had the ability to string together more than four wins in a row was three seasons go. Which is depressing, I know.
Just last season on Dec. 27, 2018, the Kings would set their season high in consecutive wins against, yes, the Arizona Coyotes. They won 2-1 with Jonathan Quick stopping 26 shots.
Here we are in 2019-20, with surprisingly a lot of encouraging signs despite a transition phase in the organization.
Jonathan Quick has been the starting netminder for the last three contests and it hasn’t been as bad as one might think.
Despite a three-goal outburst that the Vegas Golden Knights used in the middle frame on Saturday, Quick did withstand a 20-shot barrage in the first and third periods.
Though that deciding goal scored by Jeff Carter in his 1000th game did help.
While the power play continues to struggle, the penalty killing has been a plus as well. In the last six games, the LA Kings have allowed just two goals on 19 power play opportunities for their opponents.
The Arizona Coyotes were selected by many to earn a playoff berth in 2018-19. That prediction may have been a year off in being a good guess.
After striking out on the post season for seven straight years, the Yotes now find themselves just three points behind the Edmonton Oilers for first place in the Pacific Division.
While they have been playing .500 hockey in their past five games, Arizona has limited their opponents to 2.33 goals per game this season which is tied for the league best with the New York Islanders.
Possessing veteran talent to complement the youth was a move that had the fanbase adopt a positive mindset, but excitement reached a higher level when the organization landed Stanley Cup champion (Steve Dangle, yell it louder for the people in the back) Phil Kessel in the summer.
The hype was understandable given that the last time there was a 30-goal scorer in the desert, it was 2011-12 when Radim Vrbata scored 35. The closest they’ve got since was when Shane Doan scored 28 goals at the age of 39 in 2015-16.
However, it has been a disappointing 2019-20 season so far for Kessel as he is on pace for 12 goals after scoring three on a career-low 5.7 shooting percentage.
But you have to give him credit where credit is due. Phil Kessel, now in year 14 of his NHL career, has never missed a game since his fourth year in the league (2009-10) and has the third longest consecutive games played streak among active players (795).
From playing goalie roulette in Minnesota to being Quick’s backup during his cup of coffee in LA, Darcy Kuemper has found a home for himself in Glendale, AZ and attained his goal to becoming a starter.
Kuemper finished fifth in Vezina Trophy voting last year and is currently building on that by leading the league in GAA (1.85) and posting a career-high .937 save percentage.
The 2009 sixth round pick not only stopped 37 shots en route to a 3-0 win over the Calgary Flames on Saturday; his baptizing of Matthew Tkachuk sparked an old fashion brouhaha in the process.
Drew Doughty is going to pick up the tab for Darcy every time he is in town now, isn’t he?
Los Angeles Kings
Iafallo — Kopitar — Brown
Carter — Amadio — Toffoli
Kempe — Lizotte — Wagner
Luff — Prokhorkin — Clifford
Martinez — Doughty
Hutton — Walker
Ryan — Roy
Dvorak — Schmaltz — Garland
Keller — Stepan — Hinostroza
Crouse — Soderberg — Kessel
Grabner — Richardson — Fischer
Ekkman-Larsson — Demers
Chychrun — Goligoski
Ness — Oesterle