The Arizona Coyotes played a competitive game last night, as I write this, they are currently a goal up on the Golden Knights with minutes remaining. Whether they win or lose is whatever, they were eliminated from playoff contention months ago. But it is a good sign to see them putting a better product on the ice lately. They could have chosen to play dead the rest of the season and not care, but their youth have taken it upon themselves to play better hockey.
There are some talented components on their roster to build on. None bigger than the rookie Clayton Keller. Keller is buried in Arizona because of the losing team he’s playing on. However, make no mistake about it, Keller has been one of the most productive rookies in the league. He most recently broke a Coyotes’ rookie record with 23 goals on the year.
Keller is a terrific centrepiece to build the Coyotes around. They will have another high draft pick in the upcoming 2018 draft, so they’re going to be adding some more ammunition soon. The end of the Shane Doan era was inevitable, but now the Yotes can focus on building their team with a 19-year-old. The Yotes are playing for nothing tonight, but the Kings certainly are.
The Kings are tightly battling for the playoffs with the Blues, Ducks, and Avalanche. There is a point separating all four of these teams. The Avs are the team left out at the moment with 90 points, compared to 91 points for the Blues, Ducks, and Kings. If the playoffs started today, it would be the Blues and Ducks assuming the two wild cards, with LA getting 3rd in the Pacific. It isn’t time to take teams lightly and definitely not the Coyotes, who have now downed the Lightning and Knights in back-to-back outings. Head below for our free Coyotes vs. Kings pick.
Arizona Coyotes vs. L.A. Kings Pick
The Coyotes play in probably two of the best cities at distracting opposing teams on back-to-back evenings. After playing in Las Vegas, which has been a black hole for teams to go in play, the Coyotes shift their attention to Los Angeles for a meeting with the Kings. The key to deciphering this game is establishing if the Coyotes are going to care to play tonight after last night in Vegas. Are they going to care enough to compete, or are they going to be dealing with a hangover? One could make the argument that after beating the Lightning and Golden Knights, a bad team like the Coyote are bound to eventually hit a wall.
Having to win doesn’t always translate into wins. More pressure is on the Kings here, with obviously none on the Coyotes. The Kings have been making their impression on the defensive end this season. They’re tied for 1st in the NHL with 2.45 goals allowed per game. Their defence has the 30th ranked Coyote offence on tap tonight. In their last ten games, the Kings have allowed 2.3 goals per game while scoring 2.9.
I have no reason to believe the Coyotes are going to care too much about playing a physical Kings’ defence tonight. They are coming off a good win in Vegas last night, but have no time to dwell on it or celebrate. For a team way out of the playoff hunt, I think they could celebrate just a bit too much, though. The Coyotes likely make this a decent game, but the end result is looking favourable of a 3-1 or 4-1 final for their opponents tonight.