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Coyotes vs Kings - 2012 Stanley Cup Conference Finals

Vermette finds a home with Coyotes

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Hockey players embrace routine as part of the fabric of their lives. For Antoine Vermette, that has always been the case.

Antoine Vermette
Center - PHX
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 5 | PTS: 10
SOG: 22 | +/-: -1
When he played for Ottawa and Columbus, he would go to the rink on game days for the morning skate. After that he would go home, eat lunch and take a nap. None of that has changed since his move to the desert before this season's trade deadline.

Vermette still goes to the practice rink near his place in Scottsdale, Ariz., then back home for a meal and a nap. Then, before he leaves for Jobing.com Arena, he jumps in the pool to wake up, and then he proceeds to get ready and head for Glendale.

Yeah, that part of his routine is a little different since he became a member of the Phoenix Coyotes.

"It is a little strange," Vermette told NHL.com. "That is not something that I did in Ottawa or Columbus. You adjust yourself to the situation. Certainly, the weather is something you wouldn't think of when you're growing up [in Quebec] playing street hockey with your buddies."

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Aucoin's trip to conference finals a long time coming

Jerry Brown - NHL.com Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Fate has indeed played a cruel joke on Adrian Aucoin.

Adrian Aucoin
Defense - PHX
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 2
SOG: 10 | +/-: 4
After 17 years in the National Hockey League and nine trips to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the 38-year-old defenseman had never advanced past the first round. Now, with both Aucoin and the Phoenix Coyotes advancing to the Western Conference Final for the first time, an injury forced the Ottawa native to the sidelines – forced to watch games he had waited his whole life to play.

"You ask any pro athlete, and there is nothing worse than sitting on the sidelines -- especially at this time of year," Aucoin said. "And I waited longer than most for this chance. It was amazing to finally get out there."

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Kings' power play struggles remain a hot topic

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The power play struggles of the Los Angeles Kings are either a great concern or not a big deal, depending on who was speaking Monday.

After an 0-for-6 performance in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals dropped them to 6-for-70 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Kings seem to be taking a cue from the Boston Bruins. Last season Boston went 5-for-61 on the power play in the first three rounds of the playoffs and, of course, went on to win the Stanley Cup.

Asked if the power play was overrated, Drew Doughty said, "No. The power play is so key. If we just get a couple on that power play [Sunday], it changes the whole game. With the man up, you should be creating those chances and those scoring opportunities.

"I think we're getting some good zone time right now, but it's definitely very important and I know all the guys on the power play are pretty disappointed with themselves right now."

A few minutes later Kings coach Darryl Sutter stood in Doughty's vacated spot and contradicted his most dynamic offensive defenseman.

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Coyotes able to play their style in Game 4

Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

LOS ANGELES -- The absence of thought stopped the Coyotes from going absent from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Facing a win-or-be-eliminated Game 4 Sunday afternoon against a rampaging Los Angeles Kings team going for the sweep before a frenzied crowd at the Staples Center, the Phoenix Coyotes received two goals from captain Shane Doan and 36-save shutout from Mike Smith to grind out a series-extending 2-0 win in game of the Western Conference Final.

Sunday, the Coyotes stopped thinking about how disappointed they would to lose. They stopped obsessing over the brilliance of Kings goalie Jonathan Quick and they stopped worrying about the calls that they believe went against them in a taut 2-1 loss in Game 3 on Thursday that changed the face of this series.

They just played the game the way they know how to play it, believing it would deliver them a favorable result.

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Kings know they have to refocus

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

LOS ANGELES – Somewhere in the corridors of Staples Center sat the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl.

The statistical probability suggests that the Los Angeles Kings will be holding that trophy eventually. The law of numbers also suggests that the Kings were due to be taken off their bulldozed path through these Stanley Cup Playoffs.

But the Kings weren't interested in the law of averages, karma or whatever cosmic forces were in place after they suffered only their second loss of the postseason, a 2-0 shutout by the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final.

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Smith: 'I knew it had to be my game of the series'

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

LOS ANGELES -- When Mike Smith and the guys in front of him are working together well, that end of the ice becomes a frustrating fortress for opposing teams to penetrate.

Mike Smith
Goalie - PHX
RECORD: 9-6-2
GAA: 1.90 | SVP: 0.946
That was the case Sunday, as the Phoenix Coyotes shut down the Los Angeles Kings to avoid elimination in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final in a 2-0 win at Staples Center. Smith made 36 saves, while the skaters in white in front of him did their part to keep most of those attempts from being good scoring opportunities.

"Our guys have hung around the game. That's why we've been successful in the playoffs," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "Smith makes big saves when he has to. The rest of our team competes hard in front of him. We give ourselves a chance to win."

Added Smith: "I knew it had to be my best game of the series. Obviously, we can't afford to lose that game. So it was important to obviously have a good start, get in the game early with some saves. Kind of just rolled from there."

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Coyotes need more players to step up

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- One of the bedrocks of the Phoenix Coyotes' philosophy is to find scoring by committee.

The club expects to receive offense from everyone as a way to make up for a lack of game-breaking talent. Still, there are a couple of guys who are expected to contribute more than others, and some of those guys haven't been part of the scoring committee of late.

"We're missing a little from the committee right now. The committee needs to reconvene that meeting, I think," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "We need some more people to jump in. Finishing the play is one thing, but we need to create more. It goes back to sustaining forecheck pressure, making plays under pressure, whether it be on the power play or five-on-five. We need more people to chip in in that area.

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Lewis continues to play huge role for Kings

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

Trevor Lewis
Center - LAK
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 5 | PTS: 6
SOG: 24 | +/-: 5
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – It's easy to take a cursory glance at the statistics and see what is driving the Los Angeles Kings through the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

There is the top line of Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams piling up points. There is Jonathan Quick and his 1.41 goals-against average and two shutouts.

But the postseason is never really about statistics so much as the players that help make those game-winning goals and game-changing plays that tilt a series.

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Kings know there is still work to be done

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – A curious case of denial seems to have infected the Los Angeles Kings during this remarkable plow through the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

To a man, they have downplayed or refused to acknowledge their brutally efficient path through the first three rounds – an 11-1 record going into Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals on Sunday against the Phoenix Coyotes.

They have taken 3-0 series leads in all three rounds and, after never having swept an opponent in their previous 43-year history, the Kings can pull off a back-to-back sweep of the St. Louis Blues and Phoenix if they prevail in Game 4.

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Depth at center has Kings on brink of Cup Final

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- When Rob Scuderi won the Stanley Cup in 2009, his Pittsburgh Penguins were considered a model for success in the "new NHL." The Penguins were built with strength down the middle -- three elite, young centers.

The Penguins have won just a single playoff series since capturing the Cup. One of their rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers, traded away two elite centers this past offseason and then knocked them out of the playoffs in the first round.

Given the emphasis on goal prevention and shot blocking in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, it has led to the creation of a narrative that maybe the "three centers" philosophy can't reach the same heights of just a few years ago.

The team that Scuderi plays for now might just be proving the model still works. Scuderi's Los Angeles Kings have steamrolled their way to within one victory of a trip to the Stanley Cup Final, and their top three centers are proving to be a matchup nightmare for opposing Western Conference foes.

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Quote of the Day

We want to make sure that whoever makes our team really makes our team by earning it and not putting them in situations where they get preference because of their status as a first-round pick or whatever it might be. That's not going to happen. Everybody has to earn their way on our team.

— Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen on the team's prospects at development camp