Kings: Bringing the heat to Phoenix


Kings (4-1-0) vs. Phoenix Coyotes (1-2-1) at Jobing.com Arena, 7 p.m. (PST)

Five storylines to track:

1. Doughty injury - Kings defenseman Drew Doughty left the 4-3 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday night with an upper-body injury and wasn’t seen again. Kings coach Terry Murray said Doughty would not accompany the team to Phoenix, but didn’t rule out a return later in the five-game trip. Murray said the injury occurred on a late hit by Erik Cole in the neutral zone. Here’s a replay of the hit, as well as some verbal pokes at Cole from the folks at NHL network.

2. Greene cleared – Not long after Doughty was knocked from the game, it was announced that veteran defenseman Matt Greene had been "medically cleared to resume full hockey activities." Greene, 27, had offseason surgery on his left shoulder. He's not the offensive threat that Doughty is, but ranked third among NHL defensemen with 238 hits last season and recorded at least one blocked shot in 55 of his 75 games. He led the Kings with 126.

3. Simmonds returning to form – After a very bland start to the season, third-liner Wayne Simmonds is beginning to show signs of the player that scored 40 points in his sophomore year in the NHL last season. He took just one shot on goal against Carolina, but it was deflected into the net by Michal Handzus, tying the score in the final seconds of the first period. "Simmonds was very good," Murray said after the game.

4. Can they back it up? – The Kings’ only loss this season came on the second night of back-to-back games. Coupled with the fact Phoenix hasn’t played since Sunday and the ice might seemed a little tilted Thursday night. But the Kings remain one of the youngest teams in the NHL and they might be able to bounce back better than others. Especially since they'll have No. 1 goalkeeper Jonathan Quick fresh and ready after sitting out against Carolina.

5. Coyote Ugly – Phoenix has lost three straight after winning its opener. The latest setback, a 3-2 defeat Sunday against the Ducks at Honda Center, was costlier in more ways than one. Phoenix captain Shane Doan was suspended by the NHL for three games following a hit on Dan Sexton of Anaheim, leaving the high-scoring right winger unavailable against the Kings. Doan scored four goals in six games against Los Angeles last season. Also during the Anaheim game, center Martin Hanzal suffered a lower-body injury and was placed on injured reserve. Hanzal is considered the team’s top defensive forward. In his place, the team recalled former Ducks forward Andrew Ebbett.