All good things must come to an end and tonight will be the final Kings-Coyotes game of the 2023-24 regular season.
Yes, in a rather quirky twist by the league office, less than 20 games into this year’s campaign, their three-game season series will be all wrapped up. Late last month, the two teams played a pseudo home-and-home set, with the Kings coming out on top in both contests.
It was that latter game that came with a bit of concern, though. Goaltender Pheonix Copley stopped 24-of-27 shots during a 6-3 victory in Game 1, only to be lit up for three goals on six shots early in Game 2. Coach Todd McLellan saw enough and switched to Cam Talbot in net for the remainder of that one. Drew Doughty went on to put the team on his back that night, scoring twice and helping lead the team to a 5-4 win.
Copley’s only start since then was another dismal performance, allowing four goals on 20 shots in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Penguins. Afterward, McLellan was quick to back the veteran netminder, saying:
We’ve seen him do it over and over again. He’s played what,  periods for us this year and we’re going to lose confidence in him? Not a chance. He’s a good goaltender, our guys believe in him and it’s hard when you haven’t played for a while. We played back-to-back he got the shitty end of the of the schedule. That’s the way it goes. Would he like to have one back? Yeah, but we’d also like to have the shorthanded goal back and that’s on the team.
With back-to-back games coming up just after Thanksgiving, Copley would have most likely had a start later this week as it is. However, McLellan is opting to give Copley another crack at the Coyotes tonight.
Back to Doughty, tonight will mark a significant milestone for the franchise icon. He will be playing in his 1,112th NHL game, surpassing Dave Taylor (1,111) for sole possession of third place on the Kings all-time list.
Forward Anze Kopitar, who has had a goal against Arizona in each game this season, is looking to reach a milestone of his own. He’s sitting on 756 career assists, leaving him one shy of tying Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne for the most assists in franchise history. LA’s captain has 94 career points (27G, 67A) vs. the Coyotes franchise, the most among active skaters. For good measure, Doughty’s 49 points sits fourth on that same list.
There will be one additional lineup change, as fourth-line center Blake Lizotte did not travel with the team following a hit in the third period on Saturday night:
— LA Royalty (@LARoyalty1967) November 19, 2023
Overall, the Kings have been a force on the road this year. They are undefeated and will skate into Mullet Arena looking for their eighth straight win away from home. While it’s been a rather historic start to the year for McLellan’s group, it’s just another two points on the line. For as good as the Kings have been, they’re still in third place. Vegas and Vancouver continue to pace the Pacific Division, so LA just needs to keep up with those other powerhouse clubs.
LA Kings Projected Lineup vs. Arizona Coyotes
Byfield – Kopitar – Kempe
Fiala – Danault – Moore
Laferriere – Dubois – Kaliyev
Grundstrom – JAD – Lewis
Anderson – Doughty
Gavrikov – Roy
Englund – Spence
Likely scratches: Lizotte, Moverare
Key Game Info
Puck drop is set for 6pm Pacific Time and will be televised by Bally Sports.
Across the Ice
Arizona is coming off a 5-2 loss in Winnipeg on Saturday, here’s how the Coyotes lined up for that one:
Lineup in Winnipeg pic.twitter.com/M9kVT3dBYf
— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) November 18, 2023
Sean Durzi continues to be among the league leaders in goals (5) by defensemen this season. In 17 games played, the former Kings rearguard has recorded 12 points in 17 games.
On This Day in Kings History
On November 20, 1990, Tomas Sandstrom recorded his first regular season hat trick as a member of the @LAKings. Wayne Gretzky scored his 14th goal and 38th point of the season, and Daniel Berthiaume made 36 saves in a 5-4 win versus the New Jersey Devils.#LAKings #GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/0xKYbYQVsv
— The Kingstorian (@Kingstorian) November 20, 2023
Game day graphic created by ALo Images
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