Game Preview: Kings head to Phoenix

 

 

 

Preview:

The Kings (14-8-2; 30 points) head Phoenix to take on the Coyotes (12-10-3; 27 points) tonight at 7. Los Angles finished their recent five game home stand 4-1 and have won 11 of their last 14 games. The sharp turn around puts the Kings in second place in their division and third in the West. The Pacific rival Coyotes are fourth in the division and ninth in the West.

The two teams met in the West Conference finals last May and despite playing only one game this season are familiar with one another. Fast physical games are common place and tonight’s game will provide intensity with the Kings trying to keep their momentum rolling and the Coyotes looking to claw back into playoff contention. Los Angeles captured two points when the travelled to Phoenix on January 26th, winning 4-2.

A balanced offense has led to an increase of goals for the Kings. Anze Kopitar, Slava Voynov, and Justin Williams have all passed the double-digit assist mark on the season. Forward Jeff Carter continues scoring at break neck speed accumulating 17 goals. Acquired last season from the Flyers, he already has 31 goals in 60 games with the Kings, the versatile scorer is always a threat capable of scoring on the crease, in the slot, and at the top.

The slow beginning of the season for the Kings could have been attributed to Drew Doughty’s offensive woes. Entering the year Doughty was considered a front runner for the Norris Trophy and was the cornerstone to the Kings’ offense. The emergence of rookie Jake Muzzin with a keen sense and a rocket shot has helped reinvent this year’s squad. Voynov and Muzzin are now the starting two defensemen on power plays sending Doughty to the bench.

Phoenix presents problems for any defense the face. Shane Doan and Martin Hazal lead an offense averaging 2.76 goals per game. The Coyotes MVP thus far has been their young defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Ekman-Larsson leads the team in assists, points, and +/- … not too shabby for a 21-year-old kid.The Kings (14-8-2; 30 points) head Phoenix to take on the Coyotes (12-10-3; 27 points) tonight at 7. Los Angles finished their recent five game home stand 4-1 and have won 11 of their last 14 games. The sharp turn around puts the Kings in second place in their division and third in the West. The Pacific rival Coyotes are fourth in the division and ninth in the West.

The two teams met in the West Conference finals last May and despite playing only one game this season are familiar with one another. Fast physical games are common place and tonight’s game will provide intensity with the Kings trying to keep their momentum rolling and the Coyotes looking to claw back into playoff contention. Los Angeles captured two points when the travelled to Phoenix on January 26th, winning 4-2.

A balanced offense has led to an increase of goals for the Kings. Anze Kopitar, Slava Voynov, and Justin Williams have all passed the double-digit assist mark on the season. Forward Jeff Carter continues scoring at break neck speed accumulating 17 goals. Acquired last season from the Flyers, he already has 31 goals in 60 games with the Kings, the versatile scorer is always a threat capable of scoring on the crease, in the slot, and at the top.

The slow beginning of the season for the Kings could have been attributed to Drew Doughty’s offensive woes. Entering the year Doughty was considered a front runner for the Norris Trophy and was the cornerstone to the Kings’ offense. The emergence of rookie Jake Muzzin with a keen sense and a rocket shot has helped reinvent this year’s squad. Voynov and Muzzin are now the starting two defensemen on power plays sending Doughty to the bench.

Phoenix presents problems for any defense the face. Shane Doan and Martin Hazal lead an offense averaging 2.76 goals per game. The Coyotes MVP thus far has been their young defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Ekman-Larsson leads the team in assists, points, and +/- … not too shabby for a 21-year-old kid.

 

Team Statistics:

 

 

  Goals/g

      GA

      PP

      PK

      S/G

       SA

     F/O

  Kings

   2.92

2.46

18.2%

82.1%

28.5

24.2

52.0%

Coyotes

   2.76

2.80

16.0%

83.5%

30.2

28.4

53.0%

 

Team Leaders:

 

 

Kings

Coyotes

Points

Anze Koptar: 22

Jeff Carter: 19

Mike Richards: 17

Oliver Ekman-Larsson: 17

Mikkel Boedker: 16

Shane Doan: 14

Goals

Jeff Carter: 17

Anze Kopitar: 8

Dustin Brown:8

Shane Doan: 8

Martin Hazal:7

Antoine Vermette: 6

Assists

Anze Kopitar: 14

Slava Voynov: 13

Justin Williams: 12

Oliver Ekman-Larsson: 14

Mikkel Boedker: 12

Keith Yandle: 9

+/-

Justin Williams: 12

Anze Kopitar: 11

Slava Voynov: 11

Oliver Ekman-Larsson: 7

Zbynek Michalela: 6

Kyle Chipchura: 3

 

Final Thought:

Any game between physical rivals will have a good amount of penalties. The adjustment with Voynov and Muzzin on the power play unit has transformed the group from the worst in the league to one that is slightly better than average. The Kings 18.2% conversion rate lands them at 13th in the league. The Coyotes are a middle of the pack unit with a 16.0% rate and 19th in the league.

The Kings penalty unit blanked the Flames’ potent group (20% heading in) four times yesterday. Los Angeles finds themselves man down often and usually for long periods of times (they’ve been two men down enough to cause heart problems) but have been fortunate to be bailed out by a solid unit that kills extra man opportunities 82.1% and are tied for 13th in the league. Despite having a cushy defense the Coyotes penalty killing unit is tied for ninth in the league with a kill rate of 83.5%.

Tonight’s game will be a fast and physical contest with a lot of action in both offensive zones. The more focused team, playing smart and penalty free hockey, will have the best chance of capturing two points … kind of funny how games between physical teams never comes down to physicality.