The Kings lost both split-squad games Sunday night to the Phoenix Coyotes. The Staples Center squad fell 5-1 and the Glendale, Ariz., lineup lost 4-2. Here are three things to take away from the Kings’ first exhibitions of 2013-14:
1. The Kings might lose forward Jordan Nolan to an NHL suspension after a first-period hit on the Coyotes’ Rusty Klesla in the game at Jobing.com Arena. I haven’t seen a video replay of the hit, but reporters at the game described it as a shoulder-to-chin collision that left Klesla on the ice with his leg in spasm. He was taken from the ice on a stretcher and checked out by the Coyotes’ medical staff in the locker room before he was transported to a Phoenix-area hospital. The league has tried to clamp down on head shots, and by all accounts, Nolan’s hit was one of those. Nolan has no history of supplementary discipline, so it’s unclear whether he’ll be given a lengthy ban.
2. Goaltender Mathieu Garon had a difficult game in his return to Staples Center, falling behind 5-0. He admitted it was difficult to contend with the traffic in front of him, and I assume he was referring to a couple of first-period power-play goals. Garon, a former King, is in camp on a tryout basis and he was given 60 minutes Sunday to try to show what he could do. He certainly shouldn’t be blamed for the first three Coyotes goals, with two coming on power plays and a third from an unmarked Brandon Yip on the rush. Still, it wasn’t the kind of start Garon was looking forward to in his Staples return.
3. The Kings’ loss to the Coyotes at Staples was tempered by some fine play from prospects Nick Shore, Valentin Zykov and Scott Sabourin. Assistant coach John Stevens, who was behind the bench at Staples while coach Darryl Sutter was with the Glendale squad, praised the youngsters, but he wasn’t happy with the result or the team’s overall play. “I would guess that line had the majority of the chances for our hockey team,” Stevens said. “It’s great to see kids come in and take advantage of an opportunity. But it’s quite clear we’ve got lots of work to do with our compete play.”