The Los Angeles Kings line up against the Phoenix Coyotes tonight for the first division game of the season. It will be a great chance for the Kings to see where they match up against one of their division rivals, and while the Coyotes are not expected to be a dominant team this season, divisional games always take on an extra sense of importance. We’ll have to wait and see if Slava Voynov can open his scoring account in the NHL, and if the first line of Kopitar, Gagne and Williams can continue its impressive production to start the season. Let’s take a quick look at the match-up:
Phoneix Past Five:
@ San Jose – LOSS
@ Dallas – LOSS
@ Nashville – WIN
vs. Winnipeg – WIN
vs. Chicago – LOSS
The match-up between the Kings and the Coyotes is one that will hopefully (at least in the minds of Kings fans) reflect where the two teams are expected to be this season. The Coyotes are a relatively young team, lacking a whole lot in any particular area. They lack an elite top line, a top pairing defenseman, or a first string keeper, instead relying on Mike Smith, he of underwhelming results, and Jason LaBarbera, he of… well you all know what his story is.
The Kings on the other hand have arguably TWO top lines, a strong top pairing (though admittedly weaker with the absence of Drew Doughty) and a keeper that for the moment is near the top of the league in virtually every measurable statistic. On paper this should be a walk in the park. Of course, games aren’t played on paper (like that cliche? It’s a handy one). This game is going to rely on a three key factors if the Kings want to add to their winning record.
- Special Teams – The Kings special teams have not been outscored this season by the opposing team, and that will have to continue tonight. If the Coyotes are able to effectively convert their chances on the power play, and/or shut down the somewhat sporadic Kings power play, this could be a long time. If the reverse happens however, the Kings should be in good shape.
- Keep their heads – You’ll remember last season the Kings had a terrible habit of giving up a goal almost immediately after scoring one of their own. That habit seems to have been minimized thus far this season, but the trend must continue. If the Kings score, they must continue to apply pressure moving forward, and not allow the Coyotes back into the game.
- Mike Richards – Richards has done everything the Kings might have expected thus far, but a few more points would be nice. Especially considering the Kings are undefeated when he nets a point. So let’s have Richards score a goal, or even an assist tonight, and lock this game up early.
So, are you going to be watching the game live? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the game, either before during or after!