Previewing the Los Angeles Kings' 2013-14 season:
Game 11 vs. Phoenix
October 24, 2013
7:30pm PST (10:30pm EST)
While they have developed rivalries with a few other teams over the last number of years, nothing can be taken away from the Los Angeles Kings’ love-hate relationship with the Phoenix Coyotes, especially after their meeting in the 2012 Western Final.
While that series seems like eons ago, the hostility between the two clubs hasn’t waned in the least – and for the first time this season, the Kings and Coyotes will renew their turbulent relationship at the Staples Center.
Thursday night will mark the first of five meetings between Los Angeles and Phoenix in a season series that will span until April.
Since the aforementioned 2012 West Final, the Kings have won six of their last eight meetings over the Desert Dogs but at the same time, are cognizant of the fact that their rivals are coming off a win over the Calgary Flames – the same team the Kings are coming off a loss to.
Despite missing the playoffs last season, the Coyotes are an explosive 6-2-2 to start the season.
So far, it’s an old Kings rival – and the newest Coyote – in Mike Ribeiro who leads the way for Phoenix with five goals and nine points. Martin Hanzal and Mikkel Boedker are right behind with eight points apiece while Radim Vrbata shares the team lead with Ribeiro in the goals department. Even goaltender Mike Smith has a tally to his record this season. Needless to say, the Kings will be going up against an offensive unit who likes to spread the wealth so again, they will need to be sound defensively and just as strong in goal.
While he only has a goal and two assists to his record this season, Phoenix captain Shane Doan will likely play his usual role of Los Angeles’s proverbial thorn in the side – but don’t look for the Kings to back down.
While Jeff Carter leads his team in goals with five, Kopitar in points with eight and guys like Justin Williams and Mike Richards who have been on respective hot streaks as of late, this Southwest battle should be nothing less than a physical affair as the Kings, like on most nights, will be ready to go in said department.
The Kings are currently second-overall with a whopping 307 hits and that’s thanks in large part to likes of Matt Greene, who leads the way with 33, followed by Kyle Clifford (26), Drew Doughty (24) and Robyn Regehr and Jarret Stoll who each have 23. With all that said, the Coyotes’ impressive start to the season won’t mean a hill of beans to the Kings or any of their fans as none of the meetings between these two clubs are for the faint at heart.
Heading into Thursday night, the Kings will need a much more disciplined effort as their previous opponents, the Flames, went 3-for-6 against them on the power play which, as we all painfully know, included the game-winner in the final minute of regulation.
On the other side of the special teams department, however, Los Angeles has been picking up their game on the man-advantage after a sluggish series of games where they could barely manage a shot much less a tally with a man up.
Everything that has needed to be said has been said. Now, it’s time for the Kings and Coyotes to take it to the ice – where this already-bitter rivalry will elevate a few notches.
Enjoy the game!