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Posted On Thursday, 05.17.2012 / 2:39 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Devils series blog

Rangers not dwelling on the past

When facing elimination in the first round, the Rangers won back-to-back games to dispatch the Ottawa Senators. It’s the only time they've won back to back games in a series this postseason, but they are three wins shy of reaching the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 18 years because, as coach John Tortorella said, they don't dwell on the past.
 
"You have a short-term memory come playoff time," Tortorella said during a conference call Thursday. "Playoffs are a whole different animal. We don't spend too much time talking about streaks. We just spend time trying to make corrections in our game, trying to be better in the things we think we need to be better for our next game, and go about our business."
 
Tortorella said the Rangers weren't nearly good enough against the Devils in Game 2 Wednesday.
 
"We look for what we do and we didn't do for a number of minutes," he said. "I'll put it to you that way; we just didn't do for a number of minutes in that game, and that's something that needs to be rectified."
 
The Rangers have been good at rectifying in these playoffs. They may only have won back-to-back games in a series once, but they've lost back-to-back games only once as well.
 
They'll try to avoid it happening again in Game 3 Saturday at Prudential Center (1 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS).
 
"We want to try to win a couple in a row, but the other team doesn't want to lose a couple in a row," Tortorella said. "You play and each team is trying to find their way. We didn't [Wednesday]. We moved by it. We learned from it. Hopefully we're going to be a better team come Saturday."
 
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.15.2012 / 8:53 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Aucoin out for Coyotes; Fraser to miss game for L.A.

Colin Fraser
Center - LAK
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 0
SOG: 8 | +/-: -1
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Coyotes defenseman Adrian Aucoin will miss his second straight game with a lower-body injury when Phoenix takes on Los Angeles in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals at Jobing.com Arena on Tuesday.

Phoenix rookie defenseman Michael Stone will make his NHL playoff debut and be paired with Rostislav Klesla.

The Kings will be without fourth-line center Colin Fraser, who had to attend to a family matter. Kyle Clifford will play for Fraser on the Kings fourth line. He hasn't played since logging 2:29 of ice time in Game 1 against Vancouver. Brad Richardson will move to center.
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.15.2012 / 2:58 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Power play one area where Kings can still improve

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- If there is one area where the Kings can say they have not gotten the job done in the postseason it's on the power play. They are 9-1 in the playoffs and are scoring 3.10 goals per game despite being 4-for-51 on the power play.

"But we feel like we moved the puck pretty well in Game 1 and we got some shots," Anze Kopitar said. "Now it's a matter of finishing it off."

The Kings did get off six shots over their 5:36 of power play time. However, they have scored just one power-play goal over their last eight games after going 3-for-12 in the first two against Vancouver.

It hasn't hurt them yet, largely because their penalty kill has been perfect (22-for-22) since the start of the series against St. Louis, but the Kings would rather not keep playing with fire.

"I think you should try to be in every game a plus on the special teams," forward Justin Williams said. "Our penalty kill has obviously been pretty good. We need to keep going. We can't let up on that. I thought our power play gave us some decent chances, some decent looks, and we hit a couple of posts (in Game 1). Hopefully we can get going on that."

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.15.2012 / 2:58 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Kings prepared for bigger push from Coyotes

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After controlling play in the first period of Game 1, the Kings expect the Coyotes to come out much stronger, faster, harder and more desperate to start Game 2 Tuesday at Jobing.com Arena (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN).
 
The key for L.A. is not just to match it, but try to have the same type of fast start it had in Game 1, when it jumped to a 1-0 lead 3:53 into the game. Despite playing to a 1-1 tie after 20 minutes, the Kings still held a 17-4 advantage in shots on goal and all the momentum heading into the second.
 
They won the game 4-2 to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference Finals.
 
"It was tied after the first [in Game 1], but getting the lead or playing with the lead is a lot easier than chasing it," Kings center Anze Kopitar said Tuesday. "We want to come out the same way, but we know they're going to come out stronger than they did in Game 1 so we have to make sure we're ready."
 
The Kings are aware that Phoenix consistently has hung around in these rope-a-dope games, like it did in Game 1. The Coyotes have been outshot 10 times in the playoffs, but they are 7-3 in those games.
 
The key is not to let any frustration creep in, because that's usually when the opportunistic Coyotes pounce. The Kings did a good job of that in Game 1 despite going into the second intermission locked in a 2-2 tie.
 
They expect to have to have the same composed attitude in Game 2.
 
"Within the last game that we played we told ourselves we couldn't get down, we couldn't get frustrated because we weren't leading 3-0 or 2-0," Kings forward Justin Williams said. "It was a close game right to the end and that's kind of what they've been doing -- they've been able to hang around in games and get big goals from big players because they're capable of doing that. We need to keep pushing ahead, keep pushing forward, and not get frustrated if we can't get the puck in the net."
 
Here is the Kings projected lineup for Game 2:
 
Dustin Brown - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dustin Penner - Mike Richards - Jeff Carter
Dwight King - Jarret Stoll - Trevor Lewis
Brad Richardson - Colin Fraser - Jordan Nolan
 
Rob Scuderi - Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell - Slava Voynov
Alec Martinez - Matt Greene
 
Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier
 
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Posted On Monday, 05.14.2012 / 8:59 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Sutter doesn't expect Gagne to be back

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Kings forward Simon Gagne has been cleared for contact for the first time since suffering a concussion on Dec. 26. However, Gagne will not be joining the team in Arizona and a return this season seems impossible, according to coach Darryl Sutter.

"I mean, he hasn't played a game in five, six months. He hasn't practiced with the team literally since, when was it …," Sutter said. "Anything is highly unlikely really when you think about it. It's a head-issue injury.

"We played Vancouver in that first round, (Daniel) Sedin had been out then for a month to the day, look how it affected him," Sutter continued. "This guy (Gagne) hasn't played in five months. He hasn't played in 2012."

Gagne had 17 points in 34 games.

The Kings play Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals against Phoenix on Tuesday at Jobing.com Arena (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

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Posted On Monday, 05.14.2012 / 8:52 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Quick responds properly to long goal

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Kings goalie Jonathan Quick reacted to Derek Morris' 98-foot goal the same way he would have reacted if the Coyotes' defenseman had scored from two-feet out on a rebound.

Jonathan Quick
Goalie - LAK
RECORD: 9-1-0
GAA: 1.59 | SVP: 0.947
He looked back in his net, thought about the goal for a second, brushed it off and started thinking about making the next save.

"It doesn't matter whatever the play is, it's only one goal, that's it," Quick told NHL.com. "You move on. It's still a tie game, you move forward."

Quick's response to that goal is similar to his response to the 4-2 win in Game 1. He made 25 saves that he now considers irrelevant because they don't mean anything unless he wins Game 2 to allow the Kings to bring a 2-0 series lead back to Los Angeles.

"It's not just this time of year, it's any time of year; a game is only good if you win the next one," Quick said. "All year long you try your hardest, try to get a 'W' and then you move forward."

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Posted On Monday, 05.14.2012 / 4:44 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Ekman-Larsson: 'I was terrible' in series opener

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson pulled no punches about how he felt he played in Game 1 Sunday.

"I was terrible," Ekman-Larsson told NHL.com.

OK, then. Well, let's analyze it and see if he's right.

Ekman-Larsson was a minus-3 over his 24-plus minutes of ice time, though one of those came when he was on the ice for Dwight King's empty-net goal. He got caught too high in the neutral zone when Slava Voynov found Dustin Brown with a stretch pass that led to the winning goal. And with the Coyotes just getting going on a power play midway through the third, Ekman-Larsson was called for interference on Mike Richards.

"I didn't skate good or with the puck very well," he said. "I made some bad passes. I have to be more physical and play more with the puck. I have to make better plays and skate harder."

Phoenix coach Dave Tippett wasn't about to argue with his 20-year-old blueliner, but he was pleased to hear Ekman-Larsson's self-evaluation.

"That's probably a great indication of where he's at," Tippett said. "He evaluates his own game very honestly and he knew he could be better (Sunday) night. Him and his partner (Rostislav) Klesla were not near as good as we needed them to be and they were at the front of quite a few chances against. Those guys recognize that today, and I expect them both to be better (in Game 2)."

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Posted On Sunday, 05.13.2012 / 12:23 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Coyotes and Kings projected lineups for Game 1

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Kings have waited since dispatching the Blues exactly one week ago. The Coyotes have been idle since advancing past the Predators last Monday.

Sunday night at Jobing.com Arena they finally get to play another game as the Western Conference Finals get under way at 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

Due to the early local start time (5 p.m.), there are no morning skates in advance of Game 1. However, both teams practiced Saturday and with Coyotes coach Dave Tippett offering that defenseman Adrian Aucoin will not play in Game 1, the picture for both lineups became crystal clear.

Here are the expected lineups, including lines, defense pairs and goaltending depth for both the Kings and Coyotes:

KINGS

Dustin Penner - Mike Richards - Jeff Carter
Justin Williams - Anze Kopitar - Dustin Brown
Dwight King - Jarret Stoll - Trevor Lewis
Jordan Nolan - Colin Fraser - Brad Richardson

Rob Scuderi - Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell - Slava Voynov
Matt Greene - Alec Martinez

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier

COYOTES

Mikkel Boedker - Antoine Vermette - Shane Doan
Ray Whitney - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Taylor Pyatt - Boyd Gordon - Lauri Korpikoski
Kyle Chipchura - Daymond Langkow - Gilbert Brule

Keith Yandle - Derek Morris
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Rostislav Klesla
David Schlemko - Michal Rozsival

Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera

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Posted On Saturday, 05.12.2012 / 7:38 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Quick and Smith share ECHL history

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Both goalies in the Western Conference Finals can be considered Conn Smythe Trophy candidates. Both the Kings' Jonathan Quick and the Coyotes' Mike Smith are largely responsible for their teams' success this postseason.

However, the link between Smith and Quick goes far deeper than just this series -- it goes all the way back to the ECHL.

According to ECHL.com, 10 goalies in the league's 24-year history have scored a goal in a game. Smith and Quick are two of them. Even more ironic is that they both did it in the game in which they picked up their first professional win and shutout.

"Really?" Smith said. "I did not know that."

Oh, but it's true.

Smith scored his ECHL goal and picked up his first win and shutout with the Lexington Men O' War on Oct. 26, 2002. He scored with 56 seconds left in the third period to give his team a 2-0 victory.

"Tough to forget," Smith said. "The bad thing is once you score once, you want more. That feeling of scoring when you're a goaltender is like nothing else, but also it can work against you. You're only thinking about it when their goalie is out. The No. 1 job is to keep the puck out of my end."

Quick scored his goal in his second professional appearance. It was Oct. 24, 2007 and he was with the Reading Royals. He scored with 35 seconds left in the third period to cap a 3-0 win.

The puck rolled the length of the ice and into the net, and since Quick was the last to touch it, he got credit for the goal, according to ECHL.com.

"My only chance is it's the same situation," Quick said. "I don't even know if I can get it to the other end."

Since Smith is considered one of the top puck-handling goalies in the NHL, Quick said if one of the two is going to do it at this level, perhaps even in this series, it'll be the Phoenix goalie -- Smith missed by inches of scaling the puck into the net at the end of the Coyotes' series-clinching 2-1 win against Nashville in Game 5 on Monday.

"For him, it's pretty realistic," Quick said. "He can play the puck pretty well."

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Posted On Saturday, 05.12.2012 / 7:20 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Brown's son digs Dad's jerseys

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Three-year-old Mason Brown doesn't have blankies; he has his dad's white Kings' jerseys that he carries around and can't be without.

"We have two white ones, and now he knows he has two but we swap them out," L.A. captain Dustin Brown said. "It's a blankie-type thing. He can't be without his jersey. He only likes the white ones, which is great for a 3-year-old -- white."

Obviously Brown make that last statement with more than just a hint of sarcasm -- but don't be fooled, he absolutely loves the idea that his boys have taken to his jersey like this. Four-year-old Jake also has two jerseys, but Brown said it's Mason who absolutely has to have at least one of them with him at all times.

Brown's family, including wife Nicole, Jake, Mason and 1-year-old Cooper are all back in L.A. right now. They'll be watching Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals -- the only real question is which of the two so-called blankies will Mason be carrying.

"We'll see," Dustin Brown said. "It's pretty darn fun."

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Quote of the Day

I don't think it's really truly going to sink in until we drop the puck, to be honest. I know there's going to be a lot of smoke and mirrors with the media attention and all that. We came [Monday] and it was sort of a light day to get things organized. We just want to focus in on the business aspect, the game itself. That's what we're preparing to do. Get these next couple of days out of the way and it's game on.

— Lightning captain Steven Stamkos on playing in his first Stanley Cup Final