KINGS (6-2-1) at COYOTES (4-3-2)
TV: FS-West (HD)
Season Series: It's the second of six meetings. The first one was a perfect example of the latest brand of Kings hockey. Jonathan Quick stifled the Coyotes, stopping 28 shots in a 2-0 win nine days ago. It was Quick's second shutout in a row and his 100th win, by far the fastest 100 wins in Kings history. It was also his third straight win against the Coyotes and the team's fourth in a row.
Big Story: The Pacific Division and the entire Western Conference are starting to look as tight as last season, and division matchups for both teams will thin out in the coming weeks, so this is an opportunity not to be missed. Both teams are coming off strong offensive performances.
Kings: The Coyotes shouldn't feel singled out. Quick has shut the door on just about everyone he's faced so far, going 6-0-1 with a 1.12 goals-against average. He didn't, however, become the first goaltender to record four straight shutouts since Brian Boucher had five in a row for the Coyotes in '03-04. The Stars managed to score three on him Thursday, but his teammates had a long-overdue offensive breakout, winning 5-3 and causing a bit of a quandary for coach Terry Murray.
Defenseman Slava Voynov had been filling in nicely for injured Drew Doughty and had a splendid three-point night in Dallas, including the game-winning goal. With Doughty due to return for Saturday's game, something's got to give, and the feeling among management is that Voynov needs to play every night, prompting a likely return to the Kings' Manchester AHL affiliate.
"Well, yeah, it looks like Doughty is going to be ready to go here, probably on the weekend, the next game," Murray said. "So yeah, there's some decisions to be made, maybe more so by management than the coaching staff. We'll see how that goes."
Coyotes: Line-shuffling is a time-honored art in coaching, and Dave Tippett reshuffled his deck for Thursday night's game against the Devils, moving Ray Whitney down from the top line back to the shutdown line with Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata. It paid off with a pair of Whitney goals in a 5-3 win.
"There's two ways to look at playing a shutdown role," Tippett explained to the Arizona Republic. "You can have a line that's hard checkers that are positionally sound that chip the puck ahead and keep going ahead. And then there's shutdown lines that they help shut the other line down by having the puck and keeping the puck.
"With Vrbata and Whitney, you have good skill; you have skill that they're in position to just defend well, but they keep the puck and create well, too. So the ability to hold the puck and keep it away from the other team is just as good an ability as to chip and chase and be hard, so we opted for the other."
Who's Hot: Mike Richards and Dustin Brown also had three-point games against the Stars, giving Richards seven points in his last six games, Brown has six in his last five. Anze Kopitar had been held off the board by the Stars and Devils after logging points in his first six games, but bounced back with a pair of assists in Dallas on Thursday. … Coyotes captain Shane Doan has a three-game point-scoring streak including his 300th goal on Tuesday. Hanzal has four points in his last three appearances. Raffi Torres has goals in each of his last two games after going scoreless in his first seven.
Injury Report: Coyotes defenseman Michal Rozsival remains on injured reserve after getting hit in the face with a deflected puck on Oct. 8. … When Doughty returns to the lineup, the Kings have a clean bill of health.
Stat Pack: The Kings went 4-1-0 without Doughty, and even survived a three-game stretch where they scored a total of three goals, winning two of them. They scored 10 in the other two. … The two teams feature four players among the Western Conference leaders in scoring. Kopitar is tied with Daniel Sedin for the conference lead with 12 points, Whitney and Doan have 10 each and Richards has nine.
Puck Drop: "It'll stick until things go sideways again. That's every team, and that'll never change. As soon as coaches think things are going the wrong way, he'll switch it mid-game, next practice. I would expect at some point I'll be with someone else again." -- Whitney on the Coyotes' latest line configurations, which seem to be working well for the moment