Kings (6-2-1, 13 points) vs. Phoenix Coyotes (4-3-2, 10 points) at Jobing.com Arena, 6 p.m. (PT)
Five storylines to track:
1. Doughty in, Voynov out – Kings defenseman Drew Doughty was given the thumbs up to return to action after missing the last two weeks with a right shoulder injury. Despite totaling two goals and an assist in a 5-3 victory Thursday night in Dallas, rookie defenseman Slava Voynov is the odd man out—again. Barring any unforeseen setbacks to Doughty's injury over the next few hours, Voynov will be returned to Manchester, where he’ll undoubtedly continue to play like a man amongst boys.
2. Really, really special -- Only three teams in the NHL are ranked in the top 10 in both power play and penalty kill efficiency and the Kings are one of them. Buffalo and Pittsburgh are the others. It’s no coincidence that the three teams also have a combined record of 20-7-3. Winning the special-teams battles has always been a main ingredient in overall success and the Kings have been sharp on both ends ever since the preseason. The return of Doughty, a key member of both units, will only make them stronger.
3. Reverse effect – A curious trend is developing early in the season for the Kings. When they get out-shot by their opponent, they're 5-0-1 this season. When they produce more shots on goal, they’re 1-2-1. The Stars out-shot the Kings, 33-29, but the Kings were better in the stat that counts, the scoreboard. This is a trend that obviously shouldn’t continue, but one answer for the discrepancy could be the stellar play of goalkeeper Jonathan Quick. No matter how many shots the other team takes, he’s going to stop most every one.
4. More empty seats – The Kings are getting used to playing in front of small crowds on the road. In the game in Dallas, there were approximately 3,000 fans in attendance, mostly because the Rangers were playing Game 6 of the World Series against the Cardinals. The Kings played in Phoenix last week as well, and there was about 7,000 fans in the 17,000-seat arena. The Coyotes drew about that many Thursday night in a 5-3 victory against the Devils. Taking the home crowd out of the game must be nice when it occurs even before the first puck drops.
5. About face – The Coyotes scored five goals against New Jersey goalie Johan Hedberg, something the Kings failed to accomplish even once in a 3-0 loss Tuesday against the visiting Devils. Patrick O’Sullivan, who broke in with the Kings before a training camp holdout put him in the doghouse with management and he was ultimately traded away, scored his first goal as a member of the Coyotes to give his a team a 1-0 lead.