No Hanzal, no Aucoin for Coyotes in Game 3 vs. Kings; Hal Gill, pylon (Playoff Puck Previews)

Back by popular demand, here are your Puck Previews: Spotlighting the key games in NHL action, news and views as well as general frivolity. Make sure to stop back here for the nightly Three Stars when the games are finished.

"I'm the highest paid one!" tweets Hal Gill along with this photo, showing he has an amazing sense of humour.

Western Conference Final Game 3 Preview: Phoenix Coyotes at Los Angeles Kings, 9 p.m. ET.

This series got a little silly towards the end of Game 2, and it runs the risk getting even sillier if the Phoenix Coyotes can't slow down the Kings in Game 3 Thursday night. The list of things they need to do better is long, but it's easily abridged into one word: everything. They were soundly outplayed in Phoenix, and now they face the daunting task of reversing the polarity of this series at the Staples Center without Adrian Aucoin, who missed the first 2 games of this series with an injury but was expected back for Game 3, and Martin Hanzal, who's been suspended one game for running Dustin Brown into the boards. Getting the first goal will be critical: if Phoenix falls behind early in this one, it could deflate them ever further, and this series could very well be over.

Evening Reading

• Listen to today's Marek Vs. Wyshynski here.

• Nail Yakupov remained the consensus number one pick, and it's not particularly close. [Copper & Blue]

• Good question: What statistics could we measure that we currently aren't? [Raw Charge]

• Historical awesomeness: Two Swedish researchers have turned up what they believe is the earliest known image of a hockey player, an engraving of a young man on skates from 1797. [Montreal Gazette]

• This LA Times article on the Kings is nice, until it takes a sudden veer into horror territory by explaining the game of hockey to the readers. [LA Times]

Puck Buddy Comment of the Day: "Joe in DE" speaks my great wish:

Somebody needs to put the shot blocking song to music STAT

Yes please.

Bold prediction: Another day, another humdrum, smothering, flawless, unstoppable Kings Game 3 victory.

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