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Coyotes vs Kings - 2012 Stanley Cup Conference Finals

Coyotes try to build off franchise's best playoff showing

Jerry Brown - NHL.com Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A division title. Two playoff series wins and a trip to the Western Conference Finals. The undivided attention of a sports-mad region -- and a bandwagon filled with new fans that have led to a new attitude.

The spring of 2012 could be the beginning of a new chapter in Phoenix Coyotes hockey. Or it could be a one-year wonder.

Coyotes general manager Don Maloney lamented that he team was a little late getting started against the Los Angeles Kings in the conference final, and dropping the first two games at home dug a hole Phoenix couldn't emerge from. But one year after being swept in the first round by Detroit amid constant rumors the franchise was headed back to Winnipeg, the transformation was dramatic.

"We're all a little blue. We feel Game 4 and Game 5 we showed who we are and how we got into the semifinals," Maloney said. "It was a phenomenal year. Everyone stuck to what we do and we didn't spent a lot of time worrying about who owned us.

Five reasons the Coyotes were eliminated

Jerry Brown - NHL.com Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. – As disappointed and devastated as the Phoenix Coyotes were to bow out of the race for the Stanley Cup this season, the most successful campaign in franchise history won't soon be forgotten.

The first division title in franchise history. The first playoff series win since 1987 – and the first in eight tries since moving from Winnipeg to Arizona in 1996. And, over the course of six glorious weeks, the team had nine sold-out playoff games and was front-and-center in the eyes of Valley sports fans.

The Coyotes took one of the least impressive rosters in hockey and transformed it – with team leadership, great goaltending and impressive coaching – into a Western Conference finalist, still standing when the likes of Chicago, Detroit, Nashville, Chicago and San Jose were already sitting on the sidelines.

Kings, Coyotes differ sharply on Brown's hit

Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dustin Brown's controversial hit of Michal Rozsival -- just seconds before Game 5 ended -- will be one of the touchstone moments of this Western Conference Finals.

Dustin Brown
Right Wing - LAK
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 9 | PTS: 16
SOG: 49 | +/-: 13
Brown, the Los Angeles' Kings captain, caught Rozsival at the L.A. blue line with a body check that left the Coyotes defenseman unable to continue. After lying on the ice for several minutes, he was helped to the dressing room.

No penalty was called on the play, but the Coyotes believed the hit was both late -- delivered after a whistle for offsides -- and dangerous because of what they believed to be knee-on-knee contact initiated by Brown.

Doan's Stanley Cup dream dies yet again

Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

Shane Doan
Right Wing - PHX
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 4 | PTS: 9
SOG: 47 | +/-: 2
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Shane Doan sat in the home dressing room of Jobing.com Arena on Tuesday night, trying to process what had just happened.

It was less than 20 minutes after Dustin Penner had shoveled a rebound past heroic Phoenix goalie Mike Smith to give the Los Angeles Kings a 4-3 overtime victory in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final. Before the red-goal light even had a chance to flicker, Doan knew his dream of winning a Stanley Cup had died yet again.

This time, however, it did not die before the postseason had even started, as it has seven times in his career, including a soul-numbing six-year stretch between 2003 and 2009. It didn't end in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs another seven times. No, this time, it ended in the last week of May with his team just one step removed from the Stanley Cup Final before the Coyotes' captain tasted the disappointment that haunts every hockey player.

Penner's overtime winner caps personal turnabout

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dustin Penner watched his teammates lose Feb. 22 to the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center.

Dustin Penner
Left Wing - LAK
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 7 | PTS: 10
SOG: 27 | +/-: 5
It was the fourth loss in a row for the Los Angeles Kings, and the eighth defeat in 10 contests of what was becoming an increasingly disappointing season that had begun with high hopes. For Penner, it was a low point in a season that wasn’t lacking for them.

He was a healthy scratch for the fifth time in six contests. A guy who was expected to be a key contributor for a team considered in the preseason to be a Stanley Cup contender was an expensive disappointment.

A lot can change in three months.

Coyotes disappointed with finish, but proud of season

Jerry Brown - NHL.com Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Once the Phoenix Coyotes got going in this Western Conference Final, they acquitted themselves quite well.

But by then, they were already two games down and fighting for their playoff lives.

That fight ended 17:42 into overtime Tuesday night, when the Coyotes blew a pair of one-goal leads in the first and second period and all the momentum they had along with it. They were able to push Game 5 to overtime – their seventh of the postseason – before Dustin Penner's put-back in the slot gave the Kings a 4-3 win, ending the most successful season in Coyotes' history -- three wins shy of a chance to play for the Stanley Cup.

Kings await Rangers or Devils in Stanley Cup Final

Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Los Angeles Kings are going to the Stanley Cup Final for just the second time in their history -- and the first time since 1993.

Who they will play remains to be seen. The top-seeded New York Rangers and the sixth-seeded New Jersey Devils are locked in a 2-2 series tie, and a winner will not be determined until at least Game 6, which is Friday in New Jersey. Game 7, if necessary, is Sunday in Manhattan.

The Stanley Cup Final, meanwhile, starts next Wednesday at the home of the Eastern Conference representative, meaning the Kings have eight days off after their dramatic 4-3 win against Phoenix in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final on Tuesday night.

Kings' run evokes memories of '93 for broadcasters

Wednesday, 05.23.2012 / 12:54 AM / Coyotes vs Kings - 2012 Stanley Cup Conference Finals

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

LOS ANGELES -- One morning last year, Bob Miller got in his car and steered it toward a special place in time.

From his home in the San Fernando Valley, north of Los Angeles, Miller made his way to Inglewood, a working-class suburb near Los Angeles International airport. He drove to the corner of Manchester Boulevard and Prairie Avenue, and the Great Western Forum came into view.

Miller, the longtime television play-by-play announcer for the Los Angeles Kings, was there to tape a program to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the local station. It was filmed in the parking lot, but during a break Miller walked inside the building where, 19 years ago, he voiced the most magical games in the history of the franchise.

Inability to lend voice an agonizing experience

Wednesday, 05.23.2012 / 12:54 AM / Coyotes vs Kings - 2012 Stanley Cup Conference Finals

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

LOS ANGELES -- As Bob Miller made his way from the media entrance to the press room of Staples Center last Sunday, he was spotted by Los Angeles Kings fans.

Among them was Traci Ito, 35, a lifelong fan who has known nothing but Miller's voice since she started watching the Kings as a kid. She couldn't help tell Miller that she wished he was calling the games.

"A lot of people were saying that to him," Ito said. "I watched games for I don't know how many years. It's awkward to watch and not hear his voice."

Vrbata hopes to break out in Game 5

Jerry Brown - NHL.com Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz.Radim Vrbata has scored 185 NHL goals – 105 of them in four seasons as a Phoenix Coyote – by being a smart and skilled opportunist, pouncing on defensive mistakes and open patches of ice to pile up points for his team.

Radim Vrbata
Right Wing - PHX
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 4
SOG: 39 | +/-: -2
But after scoring a career-high 35 goals during the regular season, one of every six the Coyotes scored in 2011-12 (210), the postseason has been a different story.

In 15 postseason games, Vrbata has only two goals and four points and is currently mired in a seven-game pointless streak. That's not uncommon for a player who has been historically streaky, but with his team down 3-1 against the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Final, his celebrated timing currently couldn't be worse.

"Every time I feel like I might have a chance, somehow it is quickly taken away," said Vrbata, who ended the regular season with five goals in the last five games. "The perfect shot just isn't out there. The ones that are going in, they hit people or sticks and find a hole, that's the way it is.

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