Quick hits on the Kings five-game road trip that begins tonight in Phoenix.
The loss of Kings defenseman Drew Doughty to an upper-body injury comes as the team begins a difficult stretch. After tonight’s game at Phoenix (1-2-1), the remaining four opponents, Colorado, Minnesota, Chicago and Dallas, have a combined record of 15-7-2 heading into Thursday. Three of them lead, or are tied for the lead, in their respective divisions.
Peter Harrold will replace Doughty in tonight’s lineup. Harrold is a serviceable replacement on the blue line but hardly an offensive threat, totaling only 22 points in 145 NHL games. This will also mark his first appearance of the season.
Brayden Schenn and Kevin Westgarth will return to fourth-line duties tonight. Kyle Clifford and Trevor Lewis are out. Schenn has been knocking on the door of his first NHL goal, and don't be surprised if Westgarth drops his gloves if someone gets near one of the Kings' stars.
With a victory tonight in Phoenix, the Kings (4-1-0) would match their best start since the 1992-93 season, the last time they qualified for the Stanley Cup finals. Getting there won’t be easy. Not only are the Kings playing the second game of back-to-backs, they will likely see Ilya Bryzgalov in goal for the Coyotes. He has been a thorn in the Kings’ side, owning a 11-4-2 career record and a 2.40 goals-against average.
With six games remaining this month, it's not too soon to start looking at the best October in club history. That would be 1990, when the team was 9-3-1 and went on to reach the division semifinals.