LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 26: Matt Greene #2 of the Los Angeles Kings scuffles with Taylor Pyatt #14 of the Phoenix Coyotes after the play in the third period during the NHL game at Staples Center on December 26, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Kings defeated the Coyotes 4-3. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Let the conference finals begin! We've come to the point where we will only see one game each night. We start off with the Battle of the Pacific.
#8 Los Angeles Kings at #3 Phoenix Coyotes, Game 1, 8:00 Eastern, NBC Sports and TSN
Some may look at this match up and think 8th seed LA Kings are the underdogs. Those folks would be mistaken. The Kings have been playing absolutely fantastic hockey in these playoffs, decidedly doing away with President Trophy winners Vancouver Canucks and Western Conference 2nd seed--the league's leader for much of the season--St. Louis Blues. The Kings are riding on a resurgence of scoring, a near-perfect penalty killing unit, and a Vezina finalist in Jonathan Quick. But you can't discount the Phoenix Coyotes. Mike Smith has been stellar in net for the Coyotes, giving his team every chance to win each night. The best thing besides goaltending Phoenix has going for it is scoring across the board. 13 of the 15 forwards who have dressed for the Coyotes in these playoffs have recorded at least one point with 10 of them scoring a goal. The Yotes also ran quickly through their match ups to get to the conference finals, surprising everyone with their defeats over the Red Wings and Nashville Predators.
The two teams split their regular season series with five of the six games being won by only one goal. That season record shows two teams very similar in stats; the playoffs show much the same thing. The biggest difference is with special teams. The Kings are killing it when down a man, while their power play is very anemic. The Coyotes are fairly pedestrian in both categories, with the penalty kill performing slightly better than average for all playoff teams. If the Kings can find a scoring touch when up a man, the series is theirs. If not, the Coyotes might just hit the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history.
|FEB 21, 2012||LAK @ PHX||PHX, 5 - 4|
|FEB 16, 2012||PHX @ LAK||PHX, 1 - 0|
|JAN 5, 2012||PHX @ LAK||LAK, 1 - 0|
|DEC 26, 2011||PHX @ LAK||LAK, 4 - 3|
|OCT 29, 2011||LAK @ PHX||PHX, 3 - 2|
|OCT 20, 2011||LAK @ PHX||LAK, 2 - 0|