GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After nine games last season, Ray Whitney had four points, no goals and one hand injury that was making even the prospect of playing a painful one.
This year, at the age of 39, Whitney is healthy and doing what he does best -- producing. After collecting two goals and an assist in a 5-3 win Thursday against New Jersey. Whitney has 10 points in the first nine games and is now back with center Martin Hanzal and right wing Radim Vrbata -- a line that was very productive much of last season.
"I enjoyed playing with Shane (Doan) and Dayomond (Langkow) as well, but sometimes a switch can benefit a lot of players," Whitney said. "I am comfortable with Marty and Radim because we know each other. They play a style I'm familiar with."
Whitney said the hand injury had more impact than he first realized last year and being healthy from the start this season brings confidence.
"It bothered me for a couple of months and really affected the areas of my game that are important from a passing and shooting standpoint," Whitney said. "I couldn't shoot the puck; it was tough hanging on to my stick at times. Put that together with learning a new system and it made for a difficult start."
The Coyotes are looking for back-to-back wins for the second time this season tonight when they face the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings beat the Coyotes 2-0 last Thursday night in Arizona, with Jonathan Quick registering the second of three consecutive shutouts. Phoenix has won two of three games since, scoring five goals in each of the victories.
Los Angeles will get one player back tonight but will be without another. Defenseman Drew Doughty will be back in the lineup after missing five games with an upper-body injury. Left wing Simon Gagne will sit out the game with an undisclosed injury, meaning Dustin Penner will move up to his spot alongside Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams on the first line.
The Coyotes have added two players since the win over the Devils -- one new face and one familiar one. General manager Don Maloney acquired center Cal O’Reilly from the Nashville Predators on Friday in exchange for a fourth-round selection in the 2012 Entry Draft. Saturday, Phoenix re-acquired winger Brett MacLean on waivers from the Winnipeg Jets. MacLean is likely headed to Portland of the American Hockey League.
Here are the projected lineups for both teams:
Dustin Penner - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Scott Parse - Mike Richards - Dustin Brown
Brad Richardson - Jarret Stoll - Trent Hunter
Kyle Clifford - Trevor Lewis - Ethan Moreau
Willie Mitchell - Drew Doughty
Rob Scuderi - Jack Johnson
Alec Martinez - Matt Greene
Mikkel Boedker - Andy Miele - Shane Doan
Ray Whitney - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Raffi Torres - Boyd Gordon - Lauri Korpikoski
Taylor Pyatt - Daymond Langkow - Patrick O'Sullivan
Keith Yandle - Derek Morris
Rostislav Klesla - David Schlemko
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Adrian Aucoin