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Kings: Yes, they call it "the Streak"

12/26/2011

Kings (16-14-5, 37 points) vs. Phoenix Coyotes (18-14-3, 39 points), 7 p.m.

Five storylines to track:

1. Cold as ice -- A two-day break from the rink might be what the Kings needed to thaw out from their gradually worsening scoring slump. For those who’ve lost track, the Kings have gone 14 straight games without scoring more than two goals, or five weeks, whatever sounds better. It’s safe to say, Wayne Gretzky’s 51-game point streak will remain unrivaled, but the Kings could be establishing a new watermark for ineptitude. They’re also averaging a league-low 2.09 goals a game. No NHL team has finished the season with a lower scoring average in the last eight years.

2. Leading snowman -- The similarities between “the streak” and Anze Kopitar are undeniable. Kopitar has gone the last 14 games without scoring a goal, the longest such streak of his six-year career. He averages a goal every three games, yet this is the fourth consecutive season he has gone at least 10 games between goals. His feel for the net is so off, he missed shootout attempts Thursday against the visiting Ducks and Friday in San Jose. While Kopitar is certainly solidifying his reputation as a streaky goal scorer, the 24-year-old center continues to excel in other areas of the game. He won 13 of 19 faceoffs against the Sharks and totaled six takeaways, moving him to seventh in the league with 39.

3. Doughty sighting -- If there’s one player many believe will benefit from the hiring of coach Darryl Sutter, it’s fourth-year defenseman Drew Doughty, who has mysteriously regressed since a stellar sophomore year. Doughty has four assists in the last three games, his longest point streak of the season. With a point against the Coyotes, he can match the longest streak since 2009-10. He has been a handful for Phoenix in his brief career, owning four goals and six assists in 18 games. Don’t be surprised if he’s the difference maker Monday night.

4. Glass half full -- At least this isn’t 2007. The Kings came out of the Christmas break that year on a seven-game losing streak and promptly lost again to San Jose. They’ve met the Coyotes the day after Christmas two of the last three seasons and lost both those games as well. They’d be better served to come out of the break with the same resolve as last season, when they won their first two games by a combined score of 8-1.

5. Soft on the kill -- After allowing 12 power-play goals in eight games earlier this month, the Coyotes appear to have righted the ship for the time being, killing the last 14 power plays they’ve faced. With the Kings struggling to score goals they wouldn’t mind facing a soft penalty-kill unit. The Kings scored their only goal against San Jose with the man advantage, but remain in the bottom third of the league in power-play efficiency.