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."