Welcome |Account|Sign Out 
NEW! SIGN IN WITH YOUR SOCIAL PROFILE
OR
Username or EmailPassword
 
2014 NHL Draft
SHARE
Posted On Thursday, 05.24.2012 / 5:33 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Handshake line still in Kings' players thoughts

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix Coyotes weren't considered to be fierce rivals before this season, but it probably won't be the same from here on out.

The teams staged an entertaining Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals that turned scary with Dustin Brown's hit on Michal Rozsival. Phoenix seemed still to be in shock at the play when Dustin Penner scored the series-clinching overtime goal.

Penner called it a "recipe" for what happened next, as the Coyotes' Martin Hanzal and Shane Doan gave Brown a piece of their mind in the post-series handshake line. It still was a topic two days later.

"Yeah, I've never seen that before," Penner said. "I got chirped in line, too, for my headlock I put on [Antoine] Vermette in Game 2. He wanted to rehash that. I was a little surprised."

Did Penner say anything back?

“I was really surprised," Penner said. "[I said] 'I don’t have time to talk, right now, about this. I've got a flight to catch.'"

Did Penner send a BlackBerry message to Vermette?

"We didn't exchange PIN numbers," he said.

Willie Mitchell was too caught up in emotion to notice the handshake incidents, but he was diplomatic about it.

"It's different, but hey, I know their side of it," Mitchell said. "We put so much into it and they're the same way. They put so much into the preparation, the work, to get to that point. There's a lot of emotion involved and I'm sure they were more emotional at the time because their season ended and sometimes stuff gets a little bit heated and that's why hockey's so heated. The intensity level is high. I was surprised by that, but I also understand it."

Kings coach Darryl Sutter had the same feeling about it when he was asked Wednesday.

"It's an emotional time for everybody," he said. "A lot of times there's handshakes done behind closed doors. You leave it at that. The traditional handshake is wonderful. But lots of things happen behind closed doors ... Shane Doan's an awesome player and an awesome captain and I wish he were playing -- just not at our expense."
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Thursday, 05.24.2012 / 12:29 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Gretzky enjoying Kings' run to Final


One Los Angeles Kings fan is having an especially fun time watching the team's run to the Stanley Cup Final.

"It's been unreal what they've done and what they've accomplished so far," Wayne Gretzky told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday. "It's been unreal for the organization and it's been great for hockey in California and L.A. We live in L.A., so we're seeing it first-hand how fans are rallying around the Kings and hoping that they bring home the Stanley Cup."

Gretzky was the Kings' marquee player in 1993, the only other time the Kings played for the Stanley Cup. He had two goals and five assists as the Kings lost in five games to the Montreal Canadiens.

Out of the game since leaving the Phoenix Coyotes organization in 2009, Gretzky is more than happy to watch games from the comfort of his home. He said he's been very impressed by the way Kings GM Dean Lombardi has built the team, both through the draft and via trades.

"Over the last five years they made some really good, quiet deals on the side as far as stockpiling draft picks and being patient with players," Gretzky said. "And when you're able to draft a guy like Anze Kopitar or Drew Doughty and you're able to trade a couple of really good, young players like Brayden Schenn and Jack Johnson to fill voids that you need on your hockey club."

He also said coach Darryl Sutter, hired to replace Terry Murray in December, was the perfect candidate to merge Murray's defensive philosophies with Sutter's high-intensity forechecking style.

"He played hard every game whether it was in October or whether it was in May and I think that's what he instilled in this hockey club," Gretzky said. "I think the previous coach, Terry Murray, did a tremendous job in establishing the team system and I think from my point of view that Darryl tweaked it a little bit and that he's much more aggressive and [emphasizes] much more forechecking and on the puck, a lot like the way he coached in Chicago and Calgary.

"He took nothing away from their team defense, which is as strong as any team in the National Hockey League, and yet they pursue the puck, and create turnovers offensively to give them more time in the offensive zone, which creates less time in the defensive zone."
Gretzky said watching this Kings team, it would be no contest if it had to face his 1993 team -- the 2012 model would win.

"We played with heart and grit and played a system that the coach established and we had a good goalie. We kind of got on a run," he said. "This team, they're a much better team than we were in '93, so I think their chances of winning the Final are a little bit better than ours were in the sense that we definitely lost to the better team. The better team won the Stanley Cup that year."

Gretzky, retired for 13 years, still showcased some of his elusiveness when asked who he would root for if the Kings' final opponent was the New York Rangers, the team he spent the final three seasons of his career with.

"Both are great cities and the good thing for me is I've got friends in both organizations. I loved playing in both cities and I just hope it's a great final and whoever wins, good for them," he said. "I have so much love and respect for how I was treated in both organizations that I want the best for both of them."
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Tuesday, 05.22.2012 / 8:50 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Aucoin to miss Game 5 for Coyotes

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Phoenix Coyotes will be without Adrian Aucoin for the fourth time in their five Western Conference Finals games after the veteran defenseman did not take part in the skate prior to Game 5 on Tuesday night.
 
David Schlemko, who has not played since Game 1 of the series, will replace Aucoin in the lineup. Schlemko was a mainstay among the top six defensemen before severing a tendon on top of his right leg on Jan. 5. He was expected to miss the rest of the season following surgery, but returned in late March and has played sporadically since then. He has no points in four postseason games.
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Comment › |Print ›
Posted On Tuesday, 05.22.2012 / 5:09 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Doan has friend experienced in comebacks

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When you're doing something that's rarely been done in the history of your sport, it's always nice to get some encouragement from a friend who has been there and done that.
 
Trying to become just the fourth team in NHL history to dig out of a 3-0 hole in a playoff series, Phoenix captain Shane Doan engaged in a series of texts with good friend and former teammate Danny Briere after he scored the only goals in a 2-0 Coyotes win in Game 4 to allow his team to live for another day.
 
Briere played a lead role in 2010 when the Philadelphia Flyers rallied from a 3-0 series deficit to beat the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Coyotes still have a long road to travel if they want to join the Flyers, the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and the 1975 New York Islanders as the only teams to win a series after trailing 3-0.
 
"I talked to him. We sent each other texts all the time," Doan said of Briere, who played parts of six seasons in Phoenix. "When we found a way to get a win there [in Game 4], he wished me luck. I sent him one back. We got to texting about how it can be done. It's hard, but you can do it. It would be nice to have someone like Danny be on your team ... but it's one of those things, when you talk to him, you realize it's doable. I think it gives you a little more confidence."
 
Doan said Briere told him that his team's comeback taught him that you're never done until you're actually done.

"They get down three games and they pull it together, then they got down 3-0 in Game 7 and they pull it together ... it's like the (Black Knight character) in Monty Python (and the Holy Grail) ... I'm not dead yet."
 
Doan said the Coyotes have talked about taking a tournament approach to the task ahead.
 
"It's like we're in the quarterfinals and we have to win to get to the semifinals," he said. "Once you get to the semifinals, you have to win that to get to the finals. It you want to win it all, you have to win all three. It sounds kind of cheesy, but you try to find any analogy to make it sound doable. That's where we're at."
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Tuesday, 05.22.2012 / 4:44 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Kings focused on keeping Smith in net

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Mike Smith has had a great postseason, and the Los Angeles Kings saw in Game 4 of this Western Conference Finals how he can affect a game both by stopping shots and by stopping the forecheck with his outlet passes.

The objective for the Kings in Game 5 Tuesday (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS) will be simple, but not something that always is easy to execute: Make Smith work more in his crease and less outside of it. Los Angeles had 36 shots in Game 4, but many were from the perimeter and few came after the initial attempt.

"Some of them were [quality shots], some of them were from the outside," Kings center Anze Kopitar said. "Sometimes even the outside shot seems harmless, but it can be dangerous. The second and third chances off that shot are the most important. We've got to make sure we keep making him work and get some guys in front of him."

Added forward Dustin Penner: "We need to put more traffic towards their goaltender, get more second and third opportunities. Not so many one-chance-and-done kind of things."

The other facet of Smith's game that frustrates opponents is his ability to play the puck. Los Angeles loves to wear teams down on the forecheck, and the Kings have had success doing that against the smaller Coyotes. Not so after the early stages in Game 4, however, and Smith's ability to get the puck out of danger before the L.A. forwards arrive was a big part of that.

As Kopitar put it, when the Kings send the puck into the Phoenix end they need to "either fire it really hard or try to make sure it doesn't end up in the trapezoid area."

"Smith can handle the puck with the top goalies in the League," forward Dwight King said. "We try to keep our dumps away from him, realizing that he can make plays with [the puck]. We definitely know what he is capable of doing to us and we need to keep that in our mindset."

The Kings have lost only twice in this postseason, both times being a Game 4 with a chance to sweep the opponent. Los Angeles responded in Game 5 against Vancouver with an overtime victory at Rogers Arena.

They will be going for their eighth consecutive victory away from Staples Center when they face the Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena.

"We've had to be [a good road team]. That's a fact," coach Darryl Sutter said. "You're not a home-ice team, you've got to be. When you're a team that doesn't score many goals, you've got to be. You've got to manufacture and find different ways to do it. We found it.  

"I know what the talk is, because of our road record. When you look at all the different ways the team's won, it's won by your goalie being great, or your power play, or the other team taking a bad penalty, your penalty killing, overtime. There's so many different ways to it. It's not just, 'That's how you did it, that's how you do it.' There's so many different ways of doing it. The biggest thing we do is, win or lose, try and play the same way. That's the most important thing."

Here is the projected lineup for the Kings, who aren't expected to make any changes from Game 4:

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

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

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Tuesday, 05.22.2012 / 3:32 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Heat is on -- literally -- as Coyotes return to Phoenix

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Temperatures are expected to hit 108 degrees in Phoenix today, setting what is believed to be the record for the warmest temperature ever for an NHL playoff game. But while some players and fans might disagree, Phoenix's Canadian-born coach Dave Tippett doesn't have an issue as the mercury rises.
 
"I have no problem with the temperatures. It's 108, but it's a dry heat," Tippett said with a smile. "We had a game two weeks ago in Nashville, I think it was in the mid-90s with humidity. So I'll take 108 and dry over humidity -- not that I'm saying Nashville is a bad place."
 
Coyotes center Daymond Langkow said the ice conditions at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale can't be any worse than they were for the last two games in Los Angeles, where the ice was covered at Staples Center for basketball games on Friday and all-day Saturday between Games 3 and 4, making for nasty conditions on Sunday afternoon.
 
Defenseman Derek Morris has played seven of the last nine years in Arizona and has adapted well to the heat -- although he's usually gone for the summer before the 110-degree days set in.

"I'm fine, but guys like (defense partner) Keith Yandle, they don't deal with it too good," Morris said. "He's got all that hot Boston blood running through him. He's always complaining and that beard he's got now doesn't make it any better."
 
If the Coyotes are able to rally in the series and force a Game 7 here on Saturday night, things will be much more tolerable. A "cold front" is expected to hit the Valley of the Sun for the weekend, with temperatures expected to plunge to 90 or under with high winds.
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Comment › |Print ›
Posted On Tuesday, 05.22.2012 / 3:07 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Aucoin status won't be determined until pre-game

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Phoenix will have to wait until the pre-game skate to find out if defenseman Adrian Aucoin is able to go as the Coyotes again face elimination in Game 5 of the Western Conference final against the Los Angeles Kings.
 
Aucoin took part in an optional morning skate. The 38-year-old veteran who has appeared in 62 NHL playoff games, second to Ray Whitney on the team, missed the first three games of the conference finals with an undisclosed injury. He returned to the lineup in Game 4 -- the only win by Phoenix in the series -- but left in the third period due to injury and did not skate on Monday.
 
If Aucoin can't play, the Coyotes would likely go with Michael Stone, who played in Games 2 and 3, in Game 5.
 
Phoenix coach Dave Tippett indicated he would likely stick with the fourth line of Kyle Chipchura, Boyd Gordon and Marc-Antoine Pouliot in Game 5. They didn't play much as a trio because the Coyotes took six penalties and had in-game injuries to two forwards, but Pouliot's size and discipline along the walls give him the nod over Gilbert Brule and Paul Bissonnette.
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Comment › |Print ›
Posted On Monday, 05.21.2012 / 5:10 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Kings in familiar position with Game 5 looming

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Been there, done that?

Well, the Los Angeles Kings have been to Vancouver and done this -- go on the road with a 3-1 series lead and clinch. Now they are in the exact same position, needing to win on the road to eliminate the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

The Vancouver Canucks got a boost from the return of Daniel Sedin in Game 4 to force the quarterfinals to shift back to Vancouver. In this series, Phoenix got something extra from the returns of Martin Hanzal and Adrian Aucoin to move the finals back to Glendale, Ariz.

Justin Williams said after Game 4 that the Kings have to take the same approach as the Vancouver series. Team captain Dustin Brown concurred that this has the same feel.

"We've worked really hard to give ourselves this advantage early in the series and we let an opportunity slip by not capitalizing and being on home ice," Brown said. "Now it's up to guys to rally their own game and rally collectively to go into Phoenix with that attitude that we're coming out of there with a win."

This is the first sign of a setback the Kings have faced since the Vancouver series. In Game 4 of the conference finals they fell into a two-goal deficit for the first time since Game 4 of the quarterfinals; they recovered from that loss with a club record eight-game playoff winning streak that was snapped in Game 4 against the Coyotes.

"I think this team has handled adversity pretty well, considering the type of year we had," Brown said. "This time of year it's about sticking together. We lost one game, so it's a matter of rebounding."

A rebound win would make history. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, a win would make the Kings the first team to go unbeaten on the road en route to the Stanley Cup Final under the current playoff format.

Kings coach Darryl Sutter consistently downplays his team's road success and has done a tremendous job of impressing that on his players. Asked about their confidence on the road, Sutter said, "Try to win the next game. It could be in Tucson or Toledo or Los Angeles. To me, that has no bearing on anything."
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Comment › |Print ›
Posted On Saturday, 05.19.2012 / 8:51 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Veteran Coyotes not worried about what future holds

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- There has been plenty of uncertainty for the Phoenix Coyotes around this time of year in recent seasons. When the Coyotes were eliminated by the Detroit Red Wings in each of the past two postseasons, they've had to answer questions about the future whereabouts of the franchise.

Coyotes captain Shane Doan, who came to the desert with the organization from Winnipeg after his rookie season, has had to answer those types of questions more than anyone. As the Coyotes face elimination from the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Sunday against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, there is a different kind of uncertainty for Doan.
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Comment › |Print ›
Posted On Saturday, 05.19.2012 / 6:55 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

L.A. preparing for wild sports Sunday

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Earlier in the season, Drew Doughty and Mike Richards probably wouldn't have garnered much recognition or cheers by showing up at a Los Angeles Lakers game. But this is no ordinary time to be a sports fan in Los Angeles.

The two were shown on the big screen Friday night for the Lakers-Oklahoma City playoff game and the basketball fans gave the Staples Center co-tenants a proper acknowledgment. While the Kings are playing this deep into spring for the first time in 19 years, the Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers are also in the playoffs in an unprecedented smash-up of local sports on Sunday.

"I think it's great for the city," Rob Scuderi said. "Especially the Kings and the Lakers have been very successful … but for the Kings, it's been kind of a long drought as far as the postseason goes and postseason success. It's fun to see the city kind of rally around it and get into it. It's something that doesn't happen very often. Hopefully all three teams can go even farther."
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Comment › |Print ›
Posted On Saturday, 05.19.2012 / 4:52 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Fraser returns after son's medical scare

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Colin Fraser is back with the Los Angeles Kings and ready to play after a medical scare with his son removed him from hockey for a precarious few days.

Colin Fraser
Center - LAK
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 0
SOG: 8 | +/-: -1
Fraser said Saturday morning that his 19-month-old son, Calder, was hospitalized when the Kings were in Glendale, Ariz.  He immediately returned to his summer home in Sylvan Lake, Alberta, to be with his family and he missed Games 2 and 3 of the Western Conference Finals.

Fraser said "everyone's healthy and I'm back and ready to play." He was simply happy to return to normalcy.

"At first, I didn't know what to do and I said, 'Forget it, I'm going home,'" Fraser said. "Obviously, I want to play and I want to be here and this is obviously something special. But at the end of the day, family comes first, and family is 100 percent, No.1. Hockey is going to come and go, but my family I'll have forever, so it was a no-brainer for me. 
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Comment › |Print ›
Posted On Friday, 05.18.2012 / 8:21 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Coyotes hope break helps focus on Game 4

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Phoenix Coyotes felt they played better in Game 3 of this Western Conference Final series. They also came up short again, and now are one loss from elimination.

There is an extra off day in the schedule between Games 3 and 4 because of the congestion at Staples Center with the Los Angeles Kings, Clippers and Lakers still participating in the postseason. Most of the Coyotes that played Thursday night took Friday off, as coach Dave Tippett tried to give them a break from the day-to-day grind of the playoffs.
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Friday, 05.18.2012 / 7:36 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Kings not focused on officiating

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Perhaps it was steam blown off by a frustrated coach. Maybe Dave Tippett was trying to deflect attention from the three games to none series deficit his Phoenix Coyotes team is facing in the Western Conference Finals.

Whatever the case, the Los Angeles Kings aren't taking the bait.

Tippett after Game 3 on Thursday criticized the officiating during the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a perceived failure to monitor "embellishment by players." It was meant to be a general statement about the postseason, but the Kings were naturally implicated.
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Thursday, 05.17.2012 / 4:06 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Coyotes comfortable with Langkow in Hanzal's spot

LOS ANGELES -- This won't be the first time the Phoenix Coyotes have faced a critical 2012 Stanley Cup Playoff contest without Martin Hanzal, so consider them prepared for the situation.

Hanzal won't play Thursday in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals series against Los Angeles (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS) because of a hit late in Game 2 on Kings captain Dustin Brown. He also missed three games in the first round against Chicago because of injury, and the Coyotes won two of those three games.

"Obviously we want him in the lineup, no doubt about that. We've been in this situation, facing adversity and missing a couple guys like Marty," Coyotes center Antoine Vermette said. "I think it is a team play -- with or without him we have to be strong in support of each other.

"I think generally when we're successful that is how we approach it. We have every line doing their same things, play the same ways. Some nights it is different lines that can score. We feel confident that we can generate some offense from different lines."

For Game 3, Daymond Langkow will move from the fourth line into Hanzal's spot between Radim Vrbata and Taylor Pyatt. Marc-Antoine Pouliot will replace Hanzal in the lineup and play somewhere on the fourth line.

Langkow has no goals and six points in 13 playoff games, but he had at least 50 points in eight straight seasons earlier in his career. If the grey flecks in his beard weren't enough of a clue, he's a veteran of 72 postseason games and more than 1,000 in the regular season.

"Yeah, I've been there before," Langkow said. "We've got to work hard as a group and play our game and get the job the done. I haven't played with [Vrbata] at all except for a little bit in the third [period] at the end of last game. I've played with [Pyatt] a little bit. I know what kind of players they are. [Pyatt] is real good down low and obviously [Vrbata] is a great shooter. We just need to work hard and make things click."

Added Pyatt: "He [Langkow] is a real solid veteran centerman that can make a lot of plays. He'll step in and do a real good job."

There may be more of an onus on the Vermette line to provide offense, but the Coyotes have been a goals-by-committee club for much of the past three seasons. That said, the team's top two scorers during the regular season, Vrbata and Ray Whitney, have gone five games without a point.

Hanzal is tied with Pyatt for second on the team in goals in the playoffs with three, and has played at least 17:31 in every playoff game that he's finished for the Coyotes.

"He's strength in the middle. He's a big guy that, for most of the year, has centered our top line," coach Dave Tippett said. "It is what it is. We've got to focus on the players that are coming in, on a game plan that we feel we can be successful with. Certainly like to have Marty in there, but it's not a factor tonight, so we have to concentrate on the other options."
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Comment › |Print ›
Posted On Thursday, 05.17.2012 / 3:46 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Coyotes embracing underdog role

LOS ANGELES -- The Phoenix Coyotes are in a tough spot, down 2-0 to the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Finals and facing two games on the road, starting with Game 3 of the series here at Staples Center on Thursday (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, CBC).

The odds are stacked in the Los Angeles Kings' favor, and finding people who expect the Coyotes to win this series outside the Phoenix dressing room could be a difficult task.

In other words, it's a normal day for the Coyotes.

"We were joking about how obviously everyone is picking the Kings to win this now, and that's a good thing because pretty much everyone has been picking against us for three years," Phoenix captain Shane Doan said. "The moment people start picking us is when we have to be worried. We just have to find a way to rally around something."

Few pundits expected the Coyotes to return to the playoffs this season after losing goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov in the summer. Not only are they back in the playoffs, but they have reached the conference finals for the first time in franchise history.

While the Coyotes were the higher seed in each of their first two playoff series this year, Chicago and Nashville had amassed more points during the regular season and were the favorites. Even though Phoenix eked out the Pacific Division title, finishing ahead of San Jose and Los Angeles, the Kings were a heavy favorite against the Coyotes.

Now that the Kings have won the first two games in Phoenix and the Coyotes will be without center Martin Hanzal because of a suspension and defenseman Adrian Aucoin because of an injury, there won't be many people expecting a victory for the road team on Thursday.

"Somebody sent me an e-mail [Wednesday] about being picked 15th going into the conference [this season]," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "We're finding ways to overcome the adversity and we'll continue to try to find that. That's kind of the way it's been for a long time for us, so that doesn't seem to bother us too much."

Added Doan: "We've been pretty good at blocking things that are going on around us and just finding a way to win. That's all we've got to do [Thursday]  -- find a way to win one game."
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Comment › |Print ›
Posted On Thursday, 05.17.2012 / 3:14 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Projected Game 3 lineups

LOS ANGELES -- The Phoenix Coyotes will try to get back into this Western Conference Finals series against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 3 at Staples Center on Thursday night, but they will have to do so without center Martin Hanzal and defenseman Adrian Aucoin.

Hanzal is suspended after a hit from behind in Game 2 on Kings captain Dustin Brown, and Aucoin remains out with an injury.

Here's the projected lineup for both teams:

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

Keith Yandle - Derek Morris
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Michal Rozsival
Rostislav Klesla - Michael Stone

Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera

KINGS

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

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

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Comment › |Print ›
Posted On Thursday, 05.17.2012 / 3:04 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Clifford staying in lineup

LOS ANGELES -- Kyle Clifford will stay in the lineup for the Los Angeles Kings for Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals on Thursday at Staples Center ( 9 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

Colin Fraser remained in Canada for a family matter, although he was expected to return in the afternoon, Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. However, he said Clifford will play.

Clifford didn't know he would play in Game 2 until a few hours before the game. He said it wasn't too much of an adjustment even though he had not played since Game 1 of the first round, April 11.

"Definitely the emotions were there, so it was fun," Clifford said.

Clifford will play left wing on the fourth line again, with Brad Richardson at center and rookie Jordan Nolan on the right side when L.A. attempts to take a 3-0 series lead on the Phoenix Coyotes.

"I think your adrenaline carries you most of the way," Clifford said. "We're a high-energy line so we've just got to get pucks in, finish checks and keep it simple."
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Comment › |Print ›
Posted On Thursday, 05.17.2012 / 2:58 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Day off has Kings' Brown feeling fine for Game 3

LOS ANGELES -- Dustin Brown was intact and seemingly ready to go for Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals on Thursday (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS) at the Kings' morning skate.

The Los Angeles Kings captain probably was the most appreciative of the day off between Games 2 and 3 after he was the recipient of a slash from Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith and a boarding penalty from Martin Hanzal that earned the Coyotes center a one-game suspension.

What hurt more?

"Probably the hit," Brown said. "The slash, my leg went numb. … You're used to getting slashed every day.

"Going into intermission, my foot was sleeping, maybe a little numb. When I came out for the third, I had pretty much full feeling in my leg."

Hanzal boarded Brown when Brown chased his own chip to the end boards in the third period of Game 2. Brown stayed in the game, and if he was hurt, he is showing no effects from it.

"I got my arms up, so that's probably the best scenario considering the play," Brown said.

That Brown was not hurt factored into the one-game suspension levied by the NHL Player Safety Department. Also, Hanzal does not have a history of over-the-line play.

"I know these games are probably worth more," Brown said. "I thought he was going to get two [games]. But it's not an easy decision to make considering we're in the Western finals. As a player, you don't really worry about length. I guess the media really likes talking about the state of the game right now. Right now they've got one of their top centers out and we've got to be ready to go."

Brown sounded more irked at the diving penalty he was given on the full-swing slash by Smith.

"Quite surprised, I guess," Brown said. "I don't really understand it. It came down from over his head. I'm not sure. I still don't understand it. Most refs haven't been slashed on the back of the leg, either."

Kings coach Darryl Sutter only said of the suspension, "That's what the League valued it as. I'm thankful [Brown] didn't get hurt."
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Comment › |Print ›
Posted On Wednesday, 05.16.2012 / 6:16 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Kings' Fraser could miss Game 3

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- It appears that Los Angeles Kings center Colin Fraser could miss another game of the Western Conference Finals.

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."

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Comment › |Print ›
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.
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Comment › |Print ›
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
 
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
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."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Comment › |Print ›
Posted On Tuesday, 05.15.2012 / 1:08 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Coyotes defenseman Aucoin a game-time decision

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Adrian Aucoin remains a game-time decision for Game 2 on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN) as they look to even the Western Conference Finals with the Los Angeles Kings.
 
Aucoin hasn't played since leaving during the first period of Game 5 of the conference semifinals on May 7. He was able to take part in a full practice on Monday for the first time.
 
The 38-year-old Aucoin has played in 61 NHL playoff games, second-most to Ray Whitney among the Coyotes. If Aucoin is able to play, the Coyotes would likely sit David Schlemko and pair Aucoin with Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who stuggled mightily (minus-3) in a 4-2 Kings win in Game 1. That would also allow Rostislav Klesla and Michal Rozsival, a very effective pair for the Coyotes in the postseason, to be reunited.
 
Phoenix trails in a playoff series for the first time in the postseason and is looking to avoid falling behind 0-2 to the Kings on home ice -- the same fate that befell both Vancouver and St. Louis in previous rounds.
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Comment › |Print ›
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).

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter: @drosennhl
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Comment › |Print ›
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."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter: @drosennhl
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Comment › |Print ›
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)."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Comment › |Print ›
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

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Comment › |Print ›
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."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Comment › |Print ›
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."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Comment › |Print ›
Posted On Saturday, 05.12.2012 / 7:03 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Aucoin to miss Game 1 for Coyotes

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.

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Saturday, 05.12.2012 / 6:04 PM

NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Phoenix Coyotes' projected Game 1 lineup

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- With David Schlemko replacing Adrian Aucoin on the blue line, here is the Phoenix Coyotes' projected lineup for Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on Sunday night:

Ray Whitney - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Mikkel Boedker - Antoine Vermette - Shane Doan
Taylor Pyatt - Boyd Gordon - Lauri Korpikoski

Kyle Chipchura - Daymond Langkow - Gilbert Brule

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


Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Friday, 05.11.2012 / 5:59 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Aucoin status for Game 1 up in the air

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.

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Friday, 05.11.2012 / 4:38 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Smith's puck-handling ability a challenge for Kings

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- One of the memorable plays from the Phoenix Coyotes' 1-0 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 16 was goaltender Mike Smith nearly scoring on the empty net with a length-of-the-ice clear in the waning seconds.

Smith is known for his deft puck-handling, and the Kings will have to limit his activity and possession time in the Western Conference Finals, which start Sunday.

"If he's going to be a third defenseman and he's going to be breaking them out of the zone all day, then we're not going to get the sustained pressure that we want," Justin Williams said.

"Certainly, the less he handles the puck the better off we are."

Smith's puck-handling can get him into trouble, too, in the form of turnovers and stray or poor clears. But it hasn't cost Smith much against L.A. He had a 1.76 goals-against average against the Kings this season, with nine goals allowed in five games.

The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Smith also presents a physical challenge as well.

"He's huge," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "Obviously he's worked hard on his game. The one thing you can't teach is size. There are times when he makes a save, we get good traffic on him, he goes into his stance or whatever you want to call it and the puck just hits him because he's so big. That's not something you can teach. The fact that he's as big as he is, makes it even more difficult for us.

"He's pretty good at staying above, looking above guys. He goes down and probably gives more room up top. He's able to track the puck really well again, because of his size. He plays as little deeper in his net, which has its advantages and disadvantages. For a guy that big, it gives him that extra second to react to the puck. Like I said, he's on top of his game right now. It's going to be a big challenge for us."
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Thursday, 05.10.2012 / 9:39 PM

By John Kreiser -  NHL.com Columnist /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Coyotes play down underdog staus

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."

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Comment › |Print ›
Posted On Thursday, 05.10.2012 / 9:21 PM

By John Kreiser -  NHL.com Columnist /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Kings bring back memories of '04 Flames to Sutter

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."

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Comment › |Print ›
Posted On Thursday, 05.10.2012 / 9:05 PM

By John Kreiser -  NHL.com Columnist /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Kings eager to get back to work

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."

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Comment › |Print ›
Posted On Thursday, 05.10.2012 / 7:23 PM

By John Kreiser -  NHL.com Columnist /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Doan: We'll go as far as Smith takes us

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."

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Thursday, 05.10.2012 / 6:35 PM

By John Kreiser -  NHL.com Columnist /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Brown's more than a hitter now

Dustin Brown has been one of the NHL's most prolific hitters since entering the NHL eight years ago. He's still one of the League's top thumpers -- his 293 hits during the regular season were second to Matt Martin of the New York Islanders -- but he says his style of play has evolved.

"I think my game has changed a lot from when I first came up," the Los Angeles Kings' captain said during a media conference call Thursday. "I'm a little more even keel."

Unlike a lot of big hitters whose usefulness is largely limited to their physical play, Brown has been a productive offensive force -- he's scored at least 22 goals in each of the last five seasons. Brown also leads the Kings in playoff scoring with 11 points, including six goals, and is tops among all players with a plus-9 rating.

"I still get my hits," he said, "but the flip side is that I'm in better position to get scoring chances. It's a matter of balance."

Like the rest of his teammates, Brown has been waiting since Sunday to see when the Kings would start the Western Conference Finals -- they've been off since completing a four-game sweep of the St. Louis Blues this past Sunday. The Kings learned Thursday that they'll begin their series against the Phoenix Coyotes Sunday in Glendale, Ariz.

Brown conceded that he understood that arena factors and other considerations are responsible for the long break -- but to say he's ready to go now would be putting it mildly.

"Does it bug me that we have to wait until Sunday to play?" he said. "Yes. I'd rather play today, but that's the way the schedule works."
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Thursday, 05.10.2012 / 5:46 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Kings practice while continuing to play waiting game

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Kings are finding out the downside to their efficient march through the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It’s kind of like a Tom Petty song: The waiting is the hardest part.

It will have been one week from their elimination of the St. Louis Blues until the puck drops on Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against the Phoenix Coyotes on Sunday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS). The necessity of a seventh game between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals on Saturday extended the time. L.A. has been back at practice for three days.

"From a player's standpoint, if we could play tomorrow, we would," captain Dustin Brown said. "Practice is one thing, a game's another, especially at this time of year. We're getting all the rest we need. But it's been a while. Not only that, these are exciting games to be a part of and we just want to keep going."

Coach Darryl Sutter is obsessed with schedule and his practice routine leading up to a series. The 5 p.m. Pacific start time for Game 1 means the Kings will likely practice in Phoenix on Saturday because Sutter won't have a morning skate on Sunday.

Sutter also thinks like a player, so he understands the challenge this week brings for him and his players.

"They're anxious," Sutter said. "It's normal, right? They're used to playing every second or third day."

L.A. is coming off an emotional Game 4 victory against St. Louis that propelled it to the conference finals for the first time since 1993. Sutter said the Kings have done well to quickly put it past them and focus on the next round.

He held an optional skate Tuesday, put them through conditioning drills Wednesday and did one-on-one drills Thursday.

"A little bit of recovery for some guys that are banged-up," Sutter said of this week. "Some of the older guys have two-and-a-half days without skating. You always wonder what that means. But quite honestly, you have communication with them and see how they feel about it. That's the most important part. So then you get back to practice and you reinforce some stuff. You reinforce Phoenix and what they've been doing differently."

Brown isn't worried about having to ramp up the energy and emotion after sitting around for a week. The Kings don’t need any more motivation at this point.

"It's one thing if we're sitting here after All-Star break, it's a little harder to get going for game whatever it is," Brown said. "We're talking Game 1 of the Western finals, so the emotion, the hard work will be there. It's a matter of knocking the rust off right -- the only way to do that is to get involved in the game."

Sutter, meanwhile, went to Dodger Stadium for the first time Wednesday night and was awed by the venerable venue.

"I'd love to go back when we're not playing because of all the history," Sutter said. "It's pretty awesome."

Sutter said he was a "huge" Chicago Cubs fan when he played for the Chicago Blackhawks.

"I like baseball and I like the history part, too," he said. "It was good to see that."
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Thursday, 05.10.2012 / 5:42 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Richards conflicted to see Flyers get knocked out

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Kings center Mike Richards was somewhat conflicted when he watched the Philadelphia Flyers get eliminated from the postseason.

A former Flyers captain, Richards remains friends with his former teammates and still thinks positively of the city even though the Flyers traded him amid rumors of his alleged partying. The good memories are of those teammates.

"You always wish them the best and you never want to go against a team, especially when you have a lot of friends down there," Richards said. "It's a city that's given me a lot, so you always hope the best for them. Obviously we have a long ways to go before we even get there, but I know for [L.A. teammate and former Flyer Jeff Carter] and me, it would be a little bit awkward if we had to back there and play in the first year back. It would have been a little bit weird."

On the other hand, Richards gets to see his former coach Peter DeBoer of the New Jersey Devils move on.

"I had him for four years in Kitchener [of the OHL] and how good a coach he is and how he got the team ready for them, and how demanding he is as a coach and how smart he is," Richards said. "I'm not surprised by that. They're obviously well-coached and they've stuck to their game plan to a tee. It's kind of fun to watch, how fast they were, and whoever plays them in the next round is going to have their hands full."
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Wednesday, 05.09.2012 / 5:47 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Whitney a reluctant birthday boy

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.

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Comment › |Print ›
Posted On Wednesday, 05.09.2012 / 5:10 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Kings getting contributions up and down lineup

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals saw Los Angeles Kings rookie defenseman Slava Voynov and veteran blueliner Matt Greene each score his first career playoff goal.

Game 3 saw rookie Dwight King pot his first playoff goal. Game 4? King's rookie roommate, Jordan Nolan, snapped home a loose puck for his first playoff goal.

Fifteen of 18 skaters have scored a goal for L.A. in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and 17 have recorded a point. The team's third and fourth lines have scored six goals. In other words, it's precisely the dynamic of championship teams.

"I think you look at lines three and four -- everybody's outscoring their opposition," Justin Williams said.

"Our third line has scored more than their line. Our fourth line has scored more than their fourth line. We're going to need solid contributions from everybody. That's what playoffs is. Sometimes if there's a couple of lines, they offset each other and it's the so-called unsung heroes who get the stuff done."

Williams and a handful of other Kings players that have won the Stanley Cup would know, having been on teams that got scoring depth throughout the lineup.

It's not just the forwards. Greene, who had four goals and 15 points in 82 regular season games, has one goal and four points in nine playoff games. He had more points (four) in the semifinal series victory against St. Louis than Blues winger Andy McDonald (three).

Willie Mitchell has a goal and an assist, and of course Drew Doughty leads the defensemen with one goal and six assists, including a three-point game in Game 4 against St. Louis. The only player that hasn't recorded a point is Colin Fraser.

"The other team can't just say, 'Well, if we shut down the top two lines we have a good chance of winning' because we have two other lines that score," Penner said. "But for us, if all four lines that can score, we've got D that can score … that's what you need to go deep in the playoffs, is contributions from every position."

If there's any surprise to the offensive output, it's that of Nolan and King, who were recalled from the American Hockey League on Feb.10. Both were brought up for their size -- Nolan is 6-foot-3, 227 pounds and King is 6-3, 234 -- and they weren't necessarily depended on for scoring.

But both have chipped in, in a fourth-line role for Nolan and a second- and third-line role for King. Nolan is the son of former NHL head coach Ted Nolan, while King is brothers with NHL forward D.J. King.

Sutter said he wasn't surprised at how they've adjusted to playoff-level hockey.

"They have handled it really well," Sutter said. "The best part about those two kids is probably their background. As we've gone along we've had to manage their minutes, obviously, because there is a more intense environment, but they've done a good job of giving us those minutes."

King and Nolan are still living in a hotel near the team's practice facility. Nolan is doing the cooking, although King said "we've been going out more" recently.

Penner said he's been impressed by their maturity and that it hasn't gone unnoticed in the dressing room.

"I think there's a sense of pride for the older guys watching the young guy come along that quickly, and buy in and appreciate where they are now," Penner said. "They've earned their keep."
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Comment › |Print ›
Posted On Wednesday, 05.09.2012 / 5:08 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Former teammates on Cup champ are now rivals

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- One of the connections between the Kings and the Coyotes is that Los Angeles forward Justin Williams played with Phoenix forward Ray Whitney on the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes team that beat the Edmonton Oilers for the Stanley Cup.

Asked what he remembered about Whitney, Williams said, "He wasn't 40 -- putting up a lot of points as he is right now. But he was a big part of our team in '06, and certainly a huge part of their team right now. He's going to demand a lot of our attention. We're going to have to be hard on him, because he's a guy that can certainly have an impact on the series."

Whitney has two goals, including one game-winner, and six points in the playoffs.
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Comment › |Print ›
Posted On Wednesday, 05.09.2012 / 5:02 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Coyotes present familiar challenge for Kings

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Western Conference Semifinals were supposed to be a clash of similar styles with the Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues both based on defense, goaltending and physical play.

The Phoenix Coyotes present more of the same, although there might be more even-strength play between the teams considering that the Coyotes average the fourth-fewest penalty minutes per game (9.5). They also entered Wednesday with the second-most five-on-five goals (22).

One aspect is that the teams have not played since Feb. 21, and the Kings know the Coyotes have since changed.

"They're very similar to us in the way that they play from a structure standpoint -- strong defense, strong goaltending," Brown said.

"The game plan is no secret that we need to get in on the forecheck. It's going to be the same as playing St. Louis … maybe we exposed St. Louis' goaltending a little bit, but at this time of year, it's about hard work, getting on the forecheck, making it hard on their guys that play a lot of minutes. [Oliver] Ekman-Larsson plays 30 minutes a game. It's important for us to get on him. We have to wear on guys like that throughout the series, and the other guy we got to really make it hard on is Mike Smith."
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Tuesday, 05.08.2012 / 5:50 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Big day for two Nolans

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."

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Tuesday, 05.08.2012 / 3:18 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Experience at a premium in West

With longtime western powers Detroit, Vancouver, and San Jose dispatched in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it's no wonder the last two teams standing in the Western Conference don't have a great deal of experience playing in the Stanley Cup Final.

While the Kings have little real playoff experience on their roster, there are a couple of notable vets leading the charge. Particularly Rob Scuderi, who won the Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 2009, and Dustin Penner, who won it with Anaheim in 2007. There's also Justin Williams, who won the Cup with Carolina in 2006, one of seven players on the Kings' active roster who have played in the Stanley Cup Final (Mike Richards and Jeff Carter made it in 2010 when Philadelphia lost to Chicago while Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene appeared with Edmonton in 2006). That's a wealth of experience compared to the Coyotes.

Ray Whitney is the only member of the Coyotes roster to have won the Stanley Cup, having done it alongside Williams in 2006. After him, only Antoine Vermette and Raffi Torres, who is out for the series after being suspended for his hit on Marian Hossa, have played in the final. In years past, that experience may have come from assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson, who won a pair of Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins. But Samuelsson left the Coyotes after last season to go become head coach of Sweden's fabled Modo club.

Whichever team does ultimately make it to the Final, they'll certainly be adding plenty of valuable experience to their roster.
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Tuesday, 05.08.2012 / 1:56 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Exciting season series bodes well for conference final

Every season series between division rivals is a hard-fought six-game standoff. But this past season's games between Phoenix and Los Angeles were so closely matched that it could serve as an exciting preview for a potentially explosive Western Conference Final.

The season series between these Pacific Division rivals started October 20 in the season's second week. That night in Glendale, Jonathan Quick made 28 saves in a 2-0 win. Compared to the five series games that followed, that score was a blowout win for the Kings.

The teams met again in Glendale just nine days later in a game that saw the Kings and Coyotes go back and forth, combining for 72 shots. The hard-fought affair ended with Daymond Langkow's overtime winner from in close on Quick to give the Coyotes a 3-2 overtime win.

By the time the regular season was wrapped up, the Kings would hold a 3-1-2 advantage in the series, outscoring the Coyotes 13-11. Every game but the opener was won by a single goal in a season matchup that saw three shutouts, two overtimes, a shootout, and even a scrap between captains Shane Doan and Dustin Brown. The shootout took place in the teams' final matchup on February 21, a 5-4 Coyotes win in Glendale won by Mikkal Boedker's pretty shootout tally on Quick.

If that wild season series, not to mention the first month of the playoffs, is any indication, the 2012 Western Conference Final could be a good one.
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Comment › |Print ›
First | Prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5
Quote of the Day

Obviously a lot happened in a short period of time. At the end of the day, considering everything I went through, I really felt close to my teammates and I really feel like what we accomplished, I know we didn't win it all. ... I'm really proud of how we got there and what we did once we got there.

— Rangers forward Martin St. Louis to Jim Cerny of BlueshirtsUnited.com