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Slumping Squads Meet As Phoenix Coyotes Visit Kings In Los Angeles

While a two-game skid can't be seen as too bad of a streak for the Phoenix Coyotes, they'll need a dramatic turnaround from that pair of games if they hope to end it on Thursday night against the Los Angeles Kings.

The Coyotes went through their first eight games in 2011 without losing in regulation, going 6-0-2 to start. They've lost the last two, dropping a matinée to the San Jose Sharks on Monday and receiving a drubbing at the hands of the Nashville Predators on Tuesday.

On the flip side, the Kings head into Thursday's tilt struggling mightily since their hot start to the season. Since facing the Coyotes at the end of 2010, the Kings have won just two of nine, including that 6-3 beating they took from the Coyotes back on December 29th.

Defense will be the name of the game for the Coyotes, having allowed nine goals in their last two. Defensive breakdowns have been the downfall for Phoenix, allowing late goals against San Jose and surrendering five to an offensively incompetent team in Nashville.

The one defenseman who continues to improve is Keith Yandle. Phoenix's new star is riding a five-game point streak, in which he's notched seven points. His 37 on the season are tops on the club.

Phoenix will still be without Ed Jovanovski, who has been out since the win over Toronto with an upper body injury. Michal Rozsival made his Coyote debut on Tuesday, but was minus-2. He should be in the lineup again on Thursday. Vernon Fiddler is also still out with his own upper body injury.

The injury news isn't much better for Los Angeles, who is without winger Scott Parse and possibly Wayne Simmonds on Thursday. Simmonds is day-to-day with a leg injury, though he could play Thursday, while Parse is week-to-week for LA.

If Phoenix wants to find success, it will need better goaltending from Ilya Bryzgalov. While the defense is as much at fault as Bryz, allowing five goals on just 21 shots is disappointing from a top tier goaltender. LA is struggling to put the puck in the net, meaning it will fall upon Bryz to keep them down.

Thursday marks the first of a home-and-home between the two clubs, with LA heading to Phoenix for a game on Saturday, as well. With the Kings struggling as much as they are, these two become crucial for Phoenix having dropped from fourth to sixth in the Western Conference following their early week struggles.