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(Page 5 of 8)
Coyotes vs Kings - 2012 Stanley Cup Conference Finals

Johnson deal opened spot for Voynov

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- In order to trade Jack Johnson to Columbus in exchange for Jeff Carter in February, members of the Kings' brass had to have confidence that Slava Voynov could fit right in and play in the top four.

Slava Voynov
Defense - LAK
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 2
SOG: 15 | +/-: 3
They did, and Voynov is rewarding them for it in these playoffs, especially in Game 1 against Phoenix on Sunday.

Voynov made the pass out of his own end to Dustin Brown in the neutral zone, springing the Kings' captain on a semi-breakaway that led to the game-winning goal in L.A's 4-2 win at Jobing.com Arena. Voynov now has two points in the playoffs, but he's also a plus-3 and is giving the Kings 18 minutes of ice time per game on the second pair alongside Willie Mitchell.

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Coyotes' power play continues to struggle

Jerry Brown - NHL.com Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. – It has been the albatross around the neck of the Phoenix Coyotes all season. A stumbling block they must overcome. They have managed to scratch and claw all the way to the Western Conference Final – all the while dragging its Achilles' heel along for the ride.

Once again, the Phoenix power play is just getting in the way.

Dead-last in the NHL until a last-season surge allowed it to tip-toe into 29th place, Phoenix managed just 34 power-play goals in 251 chances (13.5 percent), but still managed to win its first division title in franchise history. Only two players -- Radim Vrbata (9) and Ray Whitney (8) -- have scored more than five. Adrian Aucoin (one) had more than Keith Yandle. Raffi Torres (one) had more than Mikkel Boedker.

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Kings' stingy defense makes Quick's job easier

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Matt Greene says the mere presence of Jonathan Quick makes the job of Los Angeles' six defensemen so much easier.

"He is by far and away the biggest part of our defense," Greene told NHL.com.

Fair enough, but Quick isn't the end-all, be-all of the Kings' defense -- and he will be the first to say it.

Los Angeles is 9-1 in the playoffs and is allowing a League-low 1.60 goals per game because of Quick, but also because of the balance it has on the blue line with Drew Doughty, Rob Scuderi, Willie Mitchell, Slava Voynov, Alec Martinez and Greene.

"We've got everything on every single pair," Doughty told NHL.com. "It's a great thing to have, just to show that depth. That has a lot to do with our success."

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Kings' Brown scores another game-winning goal

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- As soon as he heard the question being asked in the direction of teammate Jarret Stoll, Kings captain Dustin Brown looked down and started adjusting his cuff links and playing with the sleeves on his dress shirt. It was almost as if Brown was embarrassed that the conversation was again about him after a playoff game.

Dustin Brown
Right Wing - LAK
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 6 | PTS: 13
SOG: 38 | +/-: 11
He should be used to it by now.

Brown scored the winning goal Sunday night for the second straight game and third time in the playoffs. He now has seven goals and six assists in 10 playoff games. His team is 9-1 and three wins away from reaching the Stanley Cup Final after beating Phoenix, 4-2, in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final at Jobing.com Arena.

Brown had only seven points in his previous 12 playoff games over the last two years, but he's been a huge difference maker this spring.

"He's an all right player, yeah," Stoll said with sarcasm dripping everywhere as Brown fidgeted around in the seat next to him. "He's doing it all for us; both ends of the rink, too. Not just offensively -- which is nice -- but coming back defensively, being physical, leading by example."

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Coyotes know they need to be better

Jerry Brown - NHL.com Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Phoenix Coyotes were outshot and out-chanced badly by the Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final on Sunday. Nothing new there – Phoenix was outshot in nine of its first 11 games in this postseason – winning seven of them on the way to eliminating Chicago and Detroit.

The Coyotes leaned on goalie Mike Smith to make big saves and keep them afloat. Again, par for the course.

But there was a new twist to Sunday's 4-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings – the Coyotes were outhustled as well. They lost 1-on-1 battles all over the ice and never found a consistent effort against a team that has dominated all its postseason opponents and is now a perfect 6-0 on the road in the playoffs.

Phoenix was outshot 17-4 in the first period and needed a goal from center ice by Derek Morris to reach the intermission even. The Coyotes gave up 17 more shots in the second and needed some spectacular saves from Smith and a great individual effort from Antoine Vermette to set up Mikkel Boedker to tie it 2-2.

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Officials selected for conference finals

NHL.com

Sixteen of the League's top officials were tabbed to work this year's conference finals, which got under way Sunday night.

With a regular season and two rounds of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs complete, eight referees and eight linesmen have been asked to work the two series that will determine which teams will represent their respective conferences in the Stanley Cup Final.

Chris Lee, Wes McCauley, Dan O'Halloran, Dan O'Rourke, Kevin Pollock, Chris Rooney, Kelly Sutherland and Brad Watson were the referees chosen for Round 3. Pollock and Watson were on the ice Sunday night for Game 1 of the Western Conference Final between the Phoenix Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings at Jobing.com Arena.

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Kings back in a routine as Game 1 nears

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Kings are back on schedule -- almost.

OK, so the players' routines might be thrown off slightly because there won't be a morning skate prior to Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on Sunday at Jobing.com Arena as a result of the 5 p.m. local time start, but that's why the Kings flew into town Saturday morning and had a practice here in the afternoon.

Other than not having a morning skate, the Kings finally feel like they are back in playoff mode after a hiatus of nearly a week following their four-game series sweep of the St. Louis Blues.

And, yes, it feels good.

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Well-rested Coyotes ready to get back on ice

Jerry Brown - NHL.com Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. – As he walked down the tunnel after Saturday's workout and headed for the dressing room, Coyotes coach Dave Tippett yelled out the four words hockey fans in Phoenix and Los Angeles have been thinking all week.

"Enough practice," Tippett said. "Let's play."

Whatever momentum the Coyotes and Kings have built up over the first two rounds – neither team has trailed in a playoff series to this point – will be tested Sunday when the Western Conference final begins at Jobing.com Arena (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

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Whitney has plenty of room for another Cup ring

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Ray Whitney has the Stanley Cup ring he won with Carolina in 2006 locked inside a safe in his house here in the Valley. He said he takes it out only once a year, but there was that time when the Phoenix Coyotes' forward wore it while in Las Vegas so he could add to all the glitz already on display in America's adult playground.

Ray Whitney
Left Wing - PHX
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 4 | PTS: 6
SOG: 25 | +/-: 2
"Just when I feel like showing off," Whitney said Saturday during his 17-minute talk with the media inside the Coyotes' dressing room at Jobing.com Arena. "I'll take it to Vegas because everything bling works in Vegas. You're not insulting anybody in Vegas; everybody has something on. That's about it though. I don't wear it too often. I feel bigger when I have it on, for some reason."

That has as much to do with the size and weight of the championship ring as it does with how important it is to Whitney.

There is still room in that safe and on his other hand for another trip to Vegas, and Whitney, now 40 years old, doesn't want to blow the opportunity this postseason with the Coyotes because he knows another one may never come along.

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Kings' Penner credits Sutter for playoff renaissance

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Kings forward Dustin Penner feels like he's been taking one long breath in this postseason, only finally there is fresh air coming into his lungs, spreading good will and good fortune throughout his body.

He doesn't want it to stop. He's challenging himself to make sure it doesn't.

"Nobody has had a tougher past 12 months than Dustin, no question," Kings coach Darryl Sutter told NHL.com. "It has been a rough road for him and this is just something that is fresh and it feels new for him. And, it's good."

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Quote of the Day

Not only is it a great idea, but if you don't [start using analytics] you're going to fall behind. You have to be on the cutting edge. It was [Arizona Coyotes assistant general manager] Darcy Regier who said, 'If you didn't invent it, you have to be the second- or third-best copier, because if you're fourth or fifth you've got no chance.'

— Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock on his interest in advanced statistical analysis