The Los Angeles Kings return to action on Thursday night when they host the Arizona Coyotes in a battle between Pacific Division rivals.
For the Kings, it will be their first game played since Feb. 9 when they beat the Florida Panthers 6-3. Since that win, Los Angeles has been on their designated bye week and getting some rest and relaxation before the homestretch season.
The Coyotes, on the other hand, are likely not as rested as their opponents will be on Thursday night. Arizona’s game against Los Angeles will conclude a three-game road trip in which they have gone 1-1-0 up to this point. Their trip opened against the NHL’s Western Canadian teams where the beat Calgary but lost to Edmonton in a back-to-back series.
“It’s more the mental side that can maybe make up for the physical. If you’re mentally sharp, that goes a long way,” Kings forward Dustin Brown told LA Kings Insider when asked about coming out of the team’s bye week. “Physically, five days off the ice when you’re used to skating everyday, it’s something different right? That’s why today’s important, but if you can get to tip-top shape mentally then it can maybe offset the physical part – the fumbling, the timing. If you’re there mentally, that’s probably the more important part.”
“Physically, five days off the ice when you’re used to skating everyday, it’s something different right? That’s why today’s important, but if you can get to tip-top shape mentally then it can maybe offset the physical part – the fumbling, the timing. If you’re there mentally, that’s probably the more important part.”
The Kings have won both of their meetings against the Coyotes this season and will face their division rivals two more times before the season concludes.
Arizona Coyotes at Los Angeles Kings
Staples Center – 7:30 p.m. PST Wednesday, Feb. 16
Broadcast channels – FS-W, FS-A
2016-17 Season Series:
Dec. 1 – LAK 4 – ARZ 3
Jan. 31 – LAK 3 – ARZ 2
Los Angeles Kings – 28-23-4 – 60 Points
Home Record: 15-8-1
Hot Players: Jeff Carter
Key Injuries: Jonathan Quick
Adrian Kempe– Anze Kopitar – Tyler Toffoli
Tanner Pearson – Jeff Carter – Dustin Brown
Kyle Clifford – Nic Dowd – Marian Gaborik
Dwight King – Nick Shore – Trevor Lewis
Derek Forbort– Drew Doughty
Jake Muzzin – Alec Martinez
Brayden McNabb – Paul LaDue
Phoenix Coyotes – 19-29-7 – 45 Points
Away Record: 7-16-4
Hot Players: Martin Hanzal, Max Domi and Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Key Injuries: Brad Richards and Dave Bolland (Lawson Crouse will be a game-time decision)
Alexander Burmistrov – Jamie McGinn – Tobias Rieder
Shane Doan – Christian Dvorak – Brendan Perlini
Max Domi – Martin Hanzal – Radim Vrbata
Josh Jooris – Jordan Martinook – Ryan White
Olive Ekman-Larsson – Luke Schenn
Alex Goligoski – Michael Stone
Kevin Connauton – Connor Murphy
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap] The Kings recalled forward Adrain Kempe on Tuesday and he will make his NHL debut against the Coyotes on Thursday night. Over the last three seasons, the 20-year-old has played in 101 AHL games with the Ontario Reign and Manchester Monarchs where he scored 22 goals and recorded 47 points. Kempe was tied for second on the Reign in goals scored at the time of his call up.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap] Although the Coyotes are hovering around the Western Conference’s cellar with 45 points, a total only better than Colorado’s 32, they have grabbed 13 of a possible 20 points in their last ten games.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3)[/miptheme_dropcap] Two forwards will skate into Thursday’s game as the hottest players on the ice. Arizona’s Martin Hanzal has four goals in his last three games and leads the Coyotes with 14 on the season. Los Angeles’ Jeff Carter scored two goals and had four points in the Kings’ 6-3 win over Florida, the latest offensive explosion in a stellar year for him. Carter leads the Kings in goals with 29 and is behind only Sidney Crosby who has 30 for the league lead in goals scored.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap] Including Thursday’s game against Arizona, the Kings will play 11 of their next 15 games in the confines of Staples Center. This comes on the heels of a stretch of hockey where they played nine of ten games on the road and went 6-4.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]5)[/miptheme_dropcap] NHL teams are a combined 3-8-1 in their first game back after their respective bye week. A classic case of rest versus rust. Which will it be for Los Angeles?