As they watched the Phoenix Coyotes slip past them in the NHL standings Thursday night, the Kings had to notice the difference between the team they'd beaten in three of the previous four meetings and the one that pulled out a 1-0 win at Staples Center.
These Coyotes are playing lockdown defensive hockey, and goalie Mike Smith is taking care of what little gets through to him. Smith recorded his second shutout in as many starts and has allowed six goals in his last six starts, all wins and all against Western playoff contenders in San Jose, Detroit, Dallas, Calgary, Chicago and now Los Angeles.
"We deserve to win right now," Smith said Thursday night. "At the start of the season, maybe we didn't deserve to win some games. We lost some games that we deserved to win. Right now we're finding ways to win, but we're doing it the right way. That makes it that much better in the room here."
The game against the Kings featured four fights and over 50 penalty minutes but just one goal -...