When the Arizona Coyotes (20-22-5 45 points) face the Los Angeles Kings (17-21-6 40 points) tonight in Southern California, it will help determine each team’s fate toward their quest for the playoffs. The Yotes have been off since Wednesday night after being beaten by the Minnesota Wild 4 to 1, while the Kings were beaten at home by the Minnesota boys in L.A. on Friday night, 4 to 2. Even though the Kings came away without any points, they still have three games in hand on the Coyotes.
The Kings played a pretty solid game against the Wild, and knowing how important tonight’s game is toward their playoff hunt, one would expect them to come out even more aggressively than the night before. Their forechecking was effective, especially when younger guys like Trevor Moore, Gabe Vilardi, and Adrian Kempe were on the ice. Stalwarts like the ever-present Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar, and Dustin Brown were also instrumental in keeping things competitive. Kopitar has recently been in a scoring slump, but scored the second Kings’ goal of the game last night.
Just as the Coyotes have learned the hard way, the Wild kept coming at the Kings in waves, and when you have a prolific scorer like Kirill Kaprizov on the ice, it’s only a matter of time before the Wild is on the scoreboard. Kaprizov scored the first two goals of the game.
The well-rested Arizona Coyotes now face their 7th-place opponent in the first of their final three games with the L.A. Kings. The Desert Dogs won’t face a Kaprizov caliber player, but the Kings’ backs are against the wall, they’re at home, and they really don’t have much to lose. The Coyotes stand between them and the playoffs, however, so tonight’s game will be played with postseason ramifications and with the most pressure on the Coyotes.
Can the Coyotes rise to the challenge and come away with a victory? Can they play a solid road game and score enough goals to win and remain in control of their playoff future? Now is the time for Phil Kessel, Clayton Keller, and Christian Dvorak to step up and make a difference. Or maybe Michael Bunting, Johan Larsson, or Jakob Chychrun will become tonight’s heroes. No one cares WHO scores the goals, only that there are enough “on target” shots to tickle the twine. Let’s see if a rested Coyotes team with some practice time under their belts bring home a victory in a very winnable game. Let’s go Coyotes!