Coyotes vs Kings NHL Handicapping
The Los Angeles Kings had a tough start to the 2013-14 season, and then for a while they were once again looking like the class of the Western Conference – the team that won the Stanley Cup in 2012.
Phoenix Coyotes (32-25-11, 75 pts) vs. L.A. Kings (38-24-6, 82 pts)
Date/Time: Monday, March 17, 10:30 pm EST
Venue: Staples Center, Los Angeles CA
Broadcast: RSN – Fox Sports SW, NHL Network
Odds: LA -180 / OU: 5
But the Kings have hit a road bump this past week, with frustrating losses to the Maple Leafs and the cross-town rival Ducks. Darryl Sutter’s men will want to correct that turbulence Monday night when the Desert Dogs come to town.
The Kings’s M.O. has been pretty consistent all year: You won’t score on them, but they aren’t going to score much either. Los Angeles ranks tops in the league in Goals Against (2.1), thanks of course to the stellar netminding of freak athlete (and aptly named) Jonathan Quick.
Quick has been battling an illness over the weekend, but he practised Sunday and should be good to go for this game.
Conversely, L.A. ranks 28th in Goals per Game, with a paltry 2.3 markers on average per contest. Forward Jeff Carter is an elite scorer, as he proved at the recent Sochi Olympics if you didn’t know it already. Other than that, though, this team struggles to find anyone to light the lamp.
Their opponent, the Phoenix Coyotes, present a balanced scoring attack, with seven players tallying over 10 goals on the year. They are paced by center Antoine Vermette’s 22 tallies, but Vermette, Mike Ribiero, Martin Hanzal, Radim Vrbata and Shane Doan all have 15 goals or more this campaign.
It presents a challenge when a team has two lines’ worth of forwards that can tickle the mesh. Fresh off being ill, Quick will have to be on his game when the Coyotes come to the Staples Center. Phoenix also has a strong goaltending duo consisting of Mike Smith and Thomas Greiss.
These two clubs sit third and fourth in the Pacific division and while the Kings have a bit of a cushion, it should still be a dogfight. The ‘Yotes are currently tied with the Dallas Stars for the last playoff spot in the West; each loss this time of year is disastrous to their chances of postseason hockey.
Sutter’s men, meanwhile, seem to elevate their game this time of year, so don’t be surprised if in the very near future – and maybe tonight – the light goes on for the Kings and they start playing as if possessed.
Altogether, this game should have playoff-style intensity.
I like the Kings’s chances of righting the ship starting tonight, because firstly Quick is a game-changer and secondly, although Los Angeles doesn’t score much, it has the talent present on the roster.
Carter and Mike Richards make beautiful music together, Anze Kopitar is world-class, defensemen Drew Doughty showed us how excellent he can be in Sochi and team captain Dustin Brown can score some scrappy goals… when everyone is playing up to their capabilities.
Consecutive one-goal losses against the much-maligned Leafs and the Presidents Trophy-vying Ducks during this crucial time in the schedule must be like a punch to the breadbasket.
Look for the Kings to come out on the winning side in this one, further jeopardizing Phoenix’s playoff chances and steeling L.A.’s resolve for some spring-time puck.
Los Angeles 3, Phoenix 1