Fraser is attending to a family matter, according to the Kings, and missed Game 2 on Tuesday. Asked about Fraser on Wednesday, coach Darryl Sutter said Fraser was "back in Alberta."
Brad Richardson moved from wing to center Kyle Clifford and Jordan Nolan. It was Clifford's first action since Game 1 of the quarterfinals, when he was hit by Byron Bitz of the Vancouver Canucks and left with a concussion.
Fraser is an integral part of the Kings' grinding fourth line, but if can't play in Game 3 on Thursday, Sutter will likely turn back to Clifford, a big physical forward with a slight scoring touch. He was a surprise standout of the playoffs last season for L.A. when he played on a line with Richardson and Wayne Simmonds.
"Quite honestly, he was the logical guy to go in for [Fraser] because he brings the same sort of thing," Sutter said. "You can't take penalties and he's got to play hard and he's got to be responsible on the right side of the puck. If he does that, he gets a chance to play."
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."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
GLENDALE, Ariz . -- The Phoenix Coyotes will be without veteran defenseman Adrian Aucoin when they finally take on the Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 of the Western Conference final Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS).
The 38-year-old Aucoin, whose 61 NHL playoff games rank second to Ray Whitney among the Coyotes, skated on Saturday for the first time since leaving early in Monday's Game 5 win over the Nashville Predators. It was a light, morning-skate type of workout in advance of a 5 p.m. MT faceoff in Arizona. But Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said Aucoin would not be available for Game 1 and that David Schlemko will make his fourth start of the postseason against the Kings. Schlemko also played on Monday in place of the suspended Rostislav Klesla, who will return on Sunday.
Aucoin has two assists in 10 games during this postseason.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Coyotes defenseman Adrian Aucoin was unable to practice for a second straight day, leaving in doubt his availability for Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against Los Angeles on Sunday.
Aucoin, who was injured early in Phoenix's 2-1 series-clinching win against Nashville on Monday, hasn't returned to the ice since.
"He was going to skate a little before practice but it didn't happen," coach Dave Tippett said. "Call him day-to-day."
Aucoin missed a game due to injury earlier in the playoffs but has averaged more than 18 minutes a game during the postseason. David Schlemko, who has filled in for Aucoin, Michal Rozsival and Rostislav Klesla once each during the playoffs, played very well in the clincher against the Predators and would be the likely replacement if Aucoin can't go.
"We have more depth on this team that in the past. That's a real plus for us," Tippett said.
The Phoenix Coyotes seemingly are perpetual underdogs. Between their struggles on the ice and their unsettled ownership situation, it's easy to forget that they've made the playoffs three years in a row and are the reigning Pacific Division champions.
The Coyotes earned the third seed in the West this spring by virtue of their division title, and they'll have the home-ice edge for the third series in a row against Los Angeles. It's the third year in a row they've been in the top six in the West -- a fact that Phoenix captain Shane Doan doesn't want people to forget.
"No one seems to mention that two years ago we finished with 107 points and we were three points away from leading the West, and five points away from leading the whole NHL," Doan said during Thursday's conference call with the media. "But no one recognizes that. We got knocked out in seven games by Detroit. Had a couple things go wrong with a couple of injuries in the playoffs that really hurt us. But I think that it's kind of been it's been kind of the next step as we move along, and we want to keep it going."
Coach Dave Tippett doesn't mind having his team labeled the underdog against the Kings -- after all, the Coyotes weren't favored to beat Chicago or Nashville in the first two rounds, and they did.
"Hasn't bothered us much yet, so we'll find where we are," he said of being the underdog. "It was very competitive all year in our division. I think we won the last couple of games of the regular season to get the third seed, which turned out to be very important to us for home ice advantage.
"But our team, I think, a lot of people always view us as a smaller-market team that we're in the hunt, but nobody views us as a contender. I look at our game as kind of evolved [during] the last part of the regular season into the playoffs, where we have the confidence we can beat anybody. We recognize that we'll probably always be looked at as the underdog, but that hasn't changed for us in the last three years. So we're comfortable in that mode."
Tippett said his team benefitted by having to deal with fewer off-ice distractions this season.
"The distractions were less this year," he said. "I thought the NHL did a very good job of keeping it away from us. The thing about last year, we were going through a situation where it looked like there was an owner and then lawsuits, and gold water groups. There was a lot of stuff going on that we didn't have to deal with this year.
"I think ultimately what's happened is we've become very hardened to it. Our group has always used it as a motivating factor, not a crutch. This year as much as it was still around, it seemed less infectious on us."
The Los Angeles Kings haven't been this far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 1993 -- but their coach has. In fact, Darryl Sutter took Calgary to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2004 before the Flames came up a goal short against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Sutter was asked during a media conference call on Thursday to compare two of the key players on this year's team, captain Dustin Brown and goaltender Jonathan Quick, to Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff, their counterparts on the '04 Flames.
Sutter, who has guided the Kings to the Western Conference Finals, noted that Iginla has much better offensive numbers than Brown, but found several other similarities between the two captains.
"The big difference when I went to Calgary with Jarome, Jarome was already a Hart Trophy winner, had won a scoring race, and he had won all the major awards. That is significant," he said. "There is a big difference in terms of Jarome Iginla -- he is a 50-goal scorer over and over. Other than that, in terms of personality and character and what they bring, there are real similarities."
For his part, Brown said Iginla was one of the players he tried to model himself after.
"He's been a top player in this League for quite a few years now," he said. "You look at the goal scoring and all of that with Jarome. But he also brings that mean streak and that physical edge in the way that he plays.
"I probably don't score to the extent that he can score. But a lot of other things that I try to do -- I grew up watching him in my first few years. He was one of those guys that I looked and watched how he played the game because he led by example on the ice, and I think that's probably the best way to do it.
Sutter saw more similarities between Quick and Kiprusoff.
"I think they play a lot the same way in their styles," he said. "It's a little bit different than other guys. Same practice habits -- both have real similar work ethics, both have the same demeanor in the locker room -- but there are real similarities between these two guys."
The best news the Los Angeles Kings got Thursday was finding out when they'll be going back to work.
The Kings had a long break after beating Vancouver in the first round, then found themselves with another in-season vacation after they completed a sweep of St. Louis in the second round on Sunday. L.A. finally learned on Thursday that its Western Conference Final series against Phoenix will begin Sunday night in Glendale, Ariz. (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS).
Kings captain Dustin Brown is glad to have a starting date after three days of not knowing when the series would begin. He just wishes it were sooner
"Does it bug me we have to wait till Sunday to play? Definitely I'd rather play today," Brown said during a media conference call. "It's one of those things that just the way the scheduling works with the TV games and trying to put it on national TV, and the East going as long as it is, it's one of those things that is part of getting yourself ready.
"From a playing standpoint, I think if you ask any player in Phoenix or L.A., I think they were probably wishing we were playing tomorrow night."
Coach Darryl Sutter has been careful to walk the fine line between rest and rust for his team.
"We gave everybody two days [off], so that cut into it," he said of the long break. "We've had two days of practice, and I don't think anybody gets stale. Some guys are still very much in recovery mode from injuries, so the more you can get them healthy, the better you are."
The Kings didn't necessarily prefer to play the Coyotes rather than the Nashville Predators, but there is one benefit -- Phoenix is only about 350 miles from L.A.; Nashville is nearly 1,800 miles away.
"Well, I thought that was one of the breaks of playing in the Western Conference. We got a little bit of less travel like the East," Sutter deadpanned when asked about playing what passes for a local rival in the spread-out West. "God bless Los Angeles and Phoenix."
It's a hockey cliché that you win or lose as a team. But for Phoenix captain Shane Doan, one Coyote has become indispensable to the team's success.
Goaltender Mike Smith was an unheralded free-agent signing last summer who led the Coyotes to the first division title in franchise history and has backstopped the team into the conference finals for the first time since it joined the NHL in 1979. To Doan, he's the guy they can't do without.
"He's as valuable to our team as there is a player in the League," Doan said during a conference call with the media on Thursday. "Obviously he's proven himself, but last series he got to go against Pekka Rinne who is nominated for the Vezina. And this series he gets to go against Jonathan Quick. Another guy nominated for the Vezina.
"We're going to go as far as Smitty can carry us."
In the eyes of Doan, perhaps the most impressive thing about Smith is his competitive nature.
"I don't think you could ever beat his competitiveness out of him," Doan said. "It's not like you could get four goals on him, and he's like, 'oh, man. I've had a bad game. I'm going to [quit], this isn't my game.' It's like, 'well, there is no way you're getting that fifth one.'
"That is kind of what I get from him. He's so competitive."
The Coyotes signed Smith last summer after trading free agent-to-be Ilya Bryzgalov partly because coach Dave Tippett knew him from their time together in Dallas. Tippett also felt that Smith, a big goaltender at 6-foot-3, would work well with Coyotes goaltending coach Sean Burke, who was among the NHL's tallest goaltenders during his playing days.
"I had history with Mike in Dallas, and I thought he was a player that if he got the opportunity could really flourish," Tippett said. "I thought the relationship between him and Sean Burke would be a very good one. Both of them are similar kinds of goalies and have gone through similar issues in their career. Mike came in, was looking for an opportunity. We had an opportunity to give. And the work he and Sean have done together has given us a very, very good player."
"I really believe through this year he's evolved into one of the elite goaltenders in the League, and certainly that's been on display in the playoffs."
Tippett said one reason for the Coyotes' springtime success is the fact that he's confident in his own play -- and that his teammates share that confidence.
"We always talk about confidence is earned," Tippett said. "If you look at the year he's had and the work he's put in, he's earned that confidence. I would second that in the fact not only is he confident in his own play, he's earned the trust and the confidence of the players in front of him. So when a goaltender can do that, it leads to a very competitive team."
GLENDALE, Ariz, -- Ray Whitney turned 40 years old on Tuesday and thought he might have escaped the wrath of his teammates since it was an off-day for the Coyotes.
No chance. His locker was dressed up with presents on Wednesday, including a walker -- adorned with a blue bow -- tubes of Ben Gay and denture cream, laxative, batteries and a magnifying glass with which to read the latest copy of Oprah Winfrey's "O" Magazine.
Whitney, who will dodge any camera possible even on most normal days, had no interest in coming out to view the display while media was in the room. But his teammates didn't mind commenting -- especially suspected ringleader Shane Doan.
"I'm way young younger than a few people on this team -- and Ray Whitney is way older than everyone else," the 35-year-old Doan was only too happy to point out, "We fixed him up with a 40-year-old survival kit just to make sure he has everything working."
Whitney had everything working during the regular season, leading the Coyotes in assists (53) and points (77) while pumping in 24 goals. He's added six points in 13 playoff games -- showing he's not quite ready for a walker.
EL SEGINDO, Calif. -- Kings rookie Jordan Nolan scored his first career playoff goal Sunday. On the other side of the globe his father, Ted, coached Latvia to a 3-2 victory over Germany in the World Championship in Stockholm.
Jordan Nolan said his father was able to call him at about 10 p.m. Pacific Time on Sunday night, and his father gave him the message of "Congratulations. You're working hard out there. Keep it up,'" Jordan Nolan said.
Jordan Nolan gave L.A. a 1-0 lead in Game 4 by snapping home a loose puck near the inside edge of the right circle. It was only his third goal since he was recalled from Manchester of the AHL on Feb. 10.
"A lot of excitement," Jordan Nolan said. "I didn't want to celebrate too much, though."
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I came into a team that had 65 points, that was at the bottom of the basement, a team that everybody wrote off as never going to be good. My goal is to go from the very bottom to the very top.