NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, December 26th
(All times eastern)
Los Angeles Kings (22-12-3) at Phoenix Coyotes (23-13-2), 9 p.m.
(Sports Network) - While they may have fallen out of game shape a bit, the
Kings were at least able to get a little healthier over their eight-day
Los Angeles will see a host of players return tonight, including forward Ryan
Smyth, when it takes on surging Phoenix at Jobing.com Arena, where the Coyotes
have won eight straight.
The Kings have been out of action since a 2-1 setback in Calgary last
Thursday. That dropped them to 1-2-0 on a three-game tour of western Canada
over just four days.
Corey Elkins netted his first NHL goal and Jonathan Quick made 22 saves as the
Kings lost for just the second time in their last seven games overall. Los
Angeles must now try to find its legs in this game.
"It's hard. That's very hard to do," Kings head coach Terry Murray told his
team's Web site of keeping his club in game shape. "So you try to recreate a
lot of the game scenarios, within the practice. Throughout the practice,
you're asking for total concentration, execution."
Jarret Stoll missed his second straight game due to a groin injury and Randy
Jones remained out with a neck injury last week, and both players are doubtful
for tonight. However, the Kings are expected to have Smyth (upper-body), Wayne
Simmonds (knee), Brandon Segal (knee) and Jack Johnson (ankle) in the lineup
Smyth should provide the biggest spark, as he was activated from injured
reserve on Friday after missing 15 games. He has nine goals and 14 assists
over 22 games in his first season with the Kings following a trade from the
During their break, the Kings saw the Coyotes move one point past them for
second place in the division, as Phoenix has won two straight overall and is
10-2-1 over its last 13 games.
The Coyotes have outscored their opponents 9-2 in winning the first two games
of a three-game homestand, notching a 4-0 triumph over the Ducks on Wednesday.
Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 21 shots to record his league-leading fifth shutout of
the season, while Scottie Upshall, Martin Hanzal, Taylor Pyatt and Robert Lang
each had a goal.
"The guys were ready and competed very hard," said Phoenix head coach Dave
The Coyotes are on their first eight-game home winning streak since doing so
in 2001-02 when they played in America West Arena.
These two teams have met four times this year, with the Kings winning each of
the last three meetings. That includes two wins at Jobing.com Arena.
12/26 11:04:12 ET