Thursday, October 20, 2011
Kings: Carrying the torch into Phoenix
By Dan Arritt
Kings (3-1-1, 7 points) vs. Phoenix Coyotes (2-2-1, 5 points) at Jobing.com Arena, 7 p.m.
Five storylines to track:
1.Soaring Kopitar – They’re running out of descriptions for Kings center Anze Kopitar. With nine points in five games, he’s skating and playing and controlling the game like never before, easily putting to rest any thoughts that there might be some rigidity leftover from ankle surgery on March 30. The best part is, Kopitar doesn’t have to be the best player on the ice for the Kings to win. With the addition of Mike Richards and Simon Gagne and the maturation of several other players, the organization finally has Stanley Cup-quality depth.
2. Rollin’ Williams – It was about this time last season that Kings right wing Justin Williams started his career-high 11-game point streak. He’s always been a strong starter during his NHL career, scoring far more goals in October than any other month of the season, and this fall is shaping up no different. Williams has seven points through five games and, like Kopitar, has scored in every contest. Phoenix is one of the few teams he has had trouble solving over the years, however, owning just three goals and six assists in 22 career games.
3.Drew who? – As they demonstrated in a 5-0 victory Tuesday night against St. Louis in the home opener at Staples Center, the Kings can survive without defenseman Drew Doughty, who's out at least another five days with an upper-body injury. For the record, they also went 4-2 early last season while Doughty was sidelined with a concussion, out-scoring their opponents, 19-16. Such success without their highest-paid player is another reason for fans to be tickled pink about the prospects for this season.
4. Quick stat – Of the teams Kings goalie Jonathan Quick has faced more than four times in his career, he has the highest goals-against average against the Coyotes (2.88). Quick has admitted in the past that he doesn’t enjoy playing in Phoenix because of the sparse crowds and hum-drum atmosphere. Three days after drawing a capacity crowd of more than 17,000 for their home opener against Winnipeg, the Coyotes drew 11,051 fans Tuesday against Chicago, but many were reportedly wearing Blackhawks gear.
5. Doan’s home –Despite turning 35 last week, don’t expect Phoenix forward Shane Doan to look a step slower against the Kings. He has seven points and 11 hits in five games this season, and has historically been a thorn in the side of L.A. Doan has another good reason to put one into the net against the Kings. His next goal will be the 300th of his NHL career. When he hits that mark, he’ll also become just the second 300-goal scorer without an NHL hat trick on his resume.