GLENDALE, Ariz. – There are many ingredients that feed a rivalry, with proximity of cities, common conference and division alignments, bad blood and history among them. But there is one ingredient that fuels the fire more than any other in Dave Tippett’s opinion: playoff history.
The Coyotes have that in ingredient (and all the others) with Tuesday’s opponent, the Kings, who eliminated the Coyotes in the Western Conference final last season in infamous fashion on their way to the Stanley Cup.
“Rivalries are created when you play teams in the playoffs. I really believe that,” the Coyotes coach said. “Playing them last year in the playoffs — and we’ve had some tight games against them this year — that’s certainly something that’s fresh in everybody’s mind.”
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The Kings’ comments following a two-game L.A. sweep on March 18 and 19 at Staples Center are also fresh in the Coyotes’ minds. Defenseman Drew Doughty told John Hoven of Mayor’s Manor that the Coyotes are one of the whiniest teams in the league.
“At times, they remind me of Vancouver with their complaining and stuff like that,” Doughty said. “I don’t know if it’s one single guy or anything like that. It kind of seems like a whole team kind of thing.
“All teams whine, all teams complain, it just seems like this team, especially against us … seem to do it every night.”
The Coyotes said all the right things when reminded of those quotes on Monday.
“I’m not going to get into the talk,” Tippett said. “I hope what we do on the ice is our talking.”
Shane Doan has been at the center of several confrontations with the Kings, including last season’s Dustin Brown hit on Michal Rozsival and a dust-up with Jake Muzzin on March 19 after Doan leveled a couple of Kings below the circles and Muzzin caught him with an open-ice hit.
At first, Doan brushed off the notion that Doughty’s statements could be an additional motivating factor on Tuesday, but when reminded how Rich Clune’s pregame challenge fired him up before a 7-4 win in Nashville last week, Doan laughed before adopting a moderate tone.
“With the games that we’ve played against L.A., I don’t think you need anything (else) to fire you up,” Doan said. “I’m sure they have some things that they don’t like about us, and we certainly have some things that we don’t like about them.”
Toss in the urgency of every game for the Coyotes in their playoff chase and you should expect a electric atmosphere Tuesday night.
STILL NO SMITTY OR Z
Goalie Mike Smith (whiplash-like symptoms) skated with goalie coach Sean Burke on Monday morning but is not yet ready to return, so Jason LaBarbera will get his fifth straight start Tuesday. Forward Lauri Korpokikoski (upper body) did not skate and is out. Defenseman Zbynek Michalek (foot) practiced Monday but is doubtful for the game against the Kings.
STATUS QUO ON TRADE FRONT
GM Don Maloney did not address reporters on Monday, but Tippett said the idea is to let things play out a little bit more before the Coyotes decide what they will do at the Wednesday trade deadline. That clearly puts the Kings game in play as Maloney, assistant GM Brad Treliving and the coaching staff evaluate their team’s personnel and chances of making the playoffs.
“We like our group,” Tippett said. “Don and his staff will talk through it to see if there’s anything that they think could help our group. But I wouldn’t put us in the we’re-going-to-sell-everybody-off (group). That’s not in the conversation at all.”
This deadline lead-up has been far murkier than those of past years, when the Coyotes knew they were adding pieces to improve the club. Aside from the pack of teams chasing the final playoff spot or two, Maloney has said there are fewer sellers this season because so many teams feel they are in the hunt.
The simple reality is that there are not a lot of players available whom the Coyotes feel they can afford or would improve the club. Follow Craig Morgan on Twitter