GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Coyotes 7-0-1 run during the month of February will undergo a stiff test Tuesday night, when Phoenix debuts a patchwork lineup featuring three players with less than 20 games of NHL experience.
The Coyotes will be without forwards Kyle Chipchura (wrist) and Taylor Pyatt (upper body) along with defensemen Rostislav Klesla (upper body), Derek Morris (family illness) and David Schlemko (foot) when they face the Los Angeles Kings in a battle of teams fighting for playoff position in the Western Conference.
Winger Matt Watkins, a fifth-round choice by Dallas in the 2005 draft, will make his NHL debut and skate with enforcer Paul Bissonnette and Gilbert Brule on Phoenix's makeshift fourth line. Phoenix’s third defensive pair will consist of 2008 third-round pick Michael Stone, who made his NHL debut in Saturday’s 2-1 overtime win over Dallas, and Chris Summers, a grizzled veteran by comparison with 15 NHL games under his belt.
The Coyotes might be even more shorthanded but center Martin Hanzal, who suffered a lower body injury against the Stars Saturday, will be back against the Kings, keeping the No. 1 line with winger Ray Whitney and Radim Vrbata intact.
The Kings get center Jarret Stoll back from injured reserve and he will play with Colin Fraser and Brad Richardson. Both teams have a grand total of one goal against the other in the last 125 minutes of hockey – with each coming away with 1-0 wins. Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick (1.87 GAA) and red-hot Phoenix goalie Mike Smith (seven straight wins, 2.25 GAA) will try to keep that trend going.