The Arizona Coyotes will try to beat the 5th place LA Kings tonight for the first time this season in Los Angeles. After a few days of much needed practice, chalk talks, rest, and some healing, the Arizona Coyotes are now in California to play the Los Angeles Kings tonight before returning home to host the Minnesota Wild on Friday and Saturday nights.
The Kings (9-7-4 22 pts) sit in 5th place, one above the Coyotes, and have relied a lot on their veteran core of Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Drew Doughty, and Jonathan Quick to guide them through their promising season thus far. They are 6-2-2 in their past ten games and are only one point behind the Colorado Avalanche in the Honda West Division standings.
As Coyotes fans, we’re used to seeing those old faces over the years and enjoyed the battles for hockey supremacy in the Pacific Division. As each team slowly commits to establishing younger and more competitive rosters, the intra-division rivalry will end next year when the Seattle Kraken take the ‘Yotes’ spot next year in the Pacific, when the Coyotes move into the Central Division.
We’ll soon see if the practice time and rest have strengthened the resolve of the Desert Dogs to regain some of the early-season success. Their relentless forechecking was a key feature of the Coyotes’ system and paid dividends. Moving up and down the ice as compact 5-man units proved effective too. Somehow, much of what defined the Yotes when they were winning has disappeared, or at least has taken a back seat to slow starts, needless penalties, puck possession problems, and an ineffective power play.
Surely the sheer number of games played in this compressed schedule has taken its toll on all teams from a physical and mental standpoint, and when rest is at a premium, it exacerbates the problems with a team’s performance.
Hopefully, Conor Garland, the heart and soul of the Coyotes offense, returns to the ice this evening to spark the attack. If Darcy Kuemper isn’t quite ready to play, Adin Hill or Antti Raanta are prepared to step in. It will be interesting to see how the Coyotes respond to their days off, especially because they play the Kings, who have beaten them twice at Gila River Arena, at the Staples Center. After tonight, the teams will meet 5 more times, three times in LA and twice at GRA.
It seems to be the perfect time to rally the troops and get going with a refreshed sense of purpose. The Coyotes have the roster to be competitive – they just need to be hitting on all cylinders and to “stay the course” to prove it! Let’s go Coyotes!