Preview: Arizona at Los Angeles
When: 10:30 PM ET, Friday, October 9, 2015
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
The Los Angeles Kings attempt to rebound from an ugly season-opening loss when they host the rebuilding Arizona Coyotes on Friday. The Kings managed only 20 shots during a 5-1 home setback against Pacific Division-rival San Jose at home Wednesday in a performance that star center Anze Kopitar called “sloppy” while coach Darryl Sutter questioned his team’s defensive effort.
“You’ve got to check,” Sutter told reporters. “If you don’t check, you can’t score. We had a lot of guys, especially top guys, that weren’t interested in that part of the game.” The Kings hope to turn things in a positive direction against the Coyotes, who registered only 24 victories a season ago – tied for the fewest in the Western Conference. Promising young forwards Max Domi and Anthony Duclair are expected to make their regular-season debuts for Arizona, which also added defenseman Nicklas Grossmann to a unit that was 28th in the league in goals-against (3.26) in 2014-15. Versatile center Antoine Vermette also returned to the Coyotes as a free agent after winning a Stanley Cup with Chicago.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, FSN Arizona, FSN West (Los Angeles)
ABOUT THE COYOTES (2014-15: 24-50-8, 7TH IN PACIFIC): One of the keys for improvement will be having Mike Smith return to form after finishing 14-42-5 with a 3.16 goals-against average and .904 save percentage in 2014-15. Smith could have a better defense in front of him, led by Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Grossmann and returning veteran Zbynek Michalek. Talented forwards Martin Hanzal and Mikkel Boedker hope to enjoy healthy campaigns after combining to play in only 82 games last season due to injuries.
ABOUT THE KINGS (0-1-0): The new forward line of Kopitar, Marian Gaborik and Milan Lucic, who was ejected late, did not have a strong debut – combining for a minus-6 rating. Nick Shore scored the only goal for the Kings, who gave up two power-play tallies and were 0-for-6 with the man advantage. Los Angeles, which missed the playoffs last season after winning the Stanley Cup in 2014, should be strong defensively with Norris Trophy candidate Drew Doughty, new addition Christian Ehrhoff and netminder Jonathan Quick.
1. Arizona captain Shane Doan begins his 20th season in the NHL – all with the same organization – with 1,394 games played and 898 points.
2. Los Angeles LW Dwight King (lower body) was placed on injured reserve and is out indefinitely.
3. The Kings earned a point in all four games against the Coyotes last season (3-0-1), outscoring Arizona 9-2 over the last three.
PREDICTION: Kings 4, Coyotes 3