Kings (24-22-1) vs. Phoenix Coyotes (24-15-9) at Jobing.com Arena, 5 p.m. PT
Five storylines to track:
1. Cold shoulder – The puck is definitely not the Kings’ friend right now. It tricked and teased and ultimately turned its back on the team again Thursday night. The Kings put up 36 shots on goal, while holding the Coyotes to 15, but still got beat on the scoreboard, 2-0. They have two goals in their latest three-game losing streak and have dropped 10 of their last 12 overall, a slump that has morphed from frustrating to frantic to downright cruel. The Kings are overdue for some sort of break. After all, they’ve given out enough lately.
2. Took one for the team -- Kings general manager Dean Lombardi took some of the spotlight off the team’s struggles by insinuating there was some bad blood between the NHL executive in charge of replays and the Kings. We’re talking about a grudge that would be older than a lot of the Kings. It was a nice little zinger that cost Lombardi a $50,000 fine but maybe it will fire up the team, kind of like a Kyle Clifford fight. Nah, probably not.
3. On the bright side – The good thing about all this mess is the Kings are still just five points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. And they’re just six points behind where they stood after 47 games last season. It was also at this time last season that the Kings went six games without a power-play goal, a span of 27 man-advantage situations. The loss Thursday against Phoenix represented the team's sixth straight game without a power-play goal, a span of 19 man-advantage situations.
4. The hard line – Clifford, Trevor Lewis and Wayne Simmonds will never shatter any scoring records but they provided another bright spot in the gloomy game against Phoenix. The trio brought a dose of toughness that the other lines lacked, and weren’t afraid to barrel down on the net looking for some dirty goals. Coach Terry Murray lauded their efforts after practice Friday, but also said they need to take their games to another level as well.
5. Beating Bryzgalov – The Kings aren’t going to beat Phoenix goalkeeper Ilya Bryzgalov with unobstructed slap shots from the point. He’s just too big and too good at controlling rebounds. They had the right idea on a couple quick centering passes through the crease that Alec Martinez and Dustin Brown whiffed on. Murray said getting bodies in front of the net and obstructing Bryzgalov’s view is another strategy they'll need to employ.