WCF: Los Angeles Kings (8) v. Phoenix Coyotes (3)

Posted: 05/13/2012 by bc in Uncategorized

Skinny: This all Pacific Division Western Conference Final promises to be anything but peaceful and tranquil. All but one of the six regular season games was decided by one goal. Kings took the series on P% earning 8 of 12 points to the Coyotes 7. Los Angeles outscored Phoenix 13-12. The series also featured 3 shutouts. Expect a tough, bruising and brutal series. Old school hockey is back!

Who to Watch: Radim Vrbata led both teams with 5 goals and 2 assists. Phoenix got their goals from just 4 players though. Doan, Langkow and Torres scored 2 each. Dustin Brown and Anzi Kpitar led the Kings attack with 5 pts each. Their scoring came from 8 players. Brown and Kopitar continue to power the Kings offense. Vrbata has been comparatively quiet during the playoffs scoring 2 goals and 4 points in 11 games.

What to Watch: Most of corporate media is calling these teams mirror images. Not so. Los Angeles is King-sized on their depth lines while the Coyotes top line is powered by big boys Martin Hanzal 6-6/235 and the 6-1/223 Shane Doan. Coyotes have two budding Norris Trophy candidates in Oliver Eckman-Larsson and Keith Yandle. Eckman-Larsson has quietly become the ‘Yotes big minute guy logging over 26 ATOI per game.
The Kings do get support but are essentially dependent on their core of Brown, Kopitar, Doughty & Quick. Doughty is the key. Getting on him with an aggressive fore-check before he can find a lane or make the first pass and you stop the Kings. This series could turn on how well Phoenix power forwards, Doan, Pyatt and Torres make Doughty pay a physical price every time he touches the puck.

Forwards:   Kings are loaded with big names but that has more to do with playing in the largest media market than talent. Two of their top six forwards, Dustin Penner & Jeff Carter have moved twice in their young careers. Coyotes have 8 forwards who scored 11 or more goals during the regular season. Kings have 5. Two more Phoenix forwards, Taylor Pyatt and Boyd Gordon scored 9 and 8 respectively.
Edge: Even

Defense: No comparison. Yeah, yeah Kings Drew Doughty, 3 solid vets in Mitchell, Scuderi and Greene. After that though Sutter could be forced to ice a couple of rookies in Voynov and Martinez. Obviously either St. Louis or Vancouver was able to expose and exploit the youngsters. Phoenix has more talent on their depth lines.
‘Yotes have the aforementioned Eckman-Larsson and Yandle. Four solid vets in Rostislav Klesla, Derek Morris, Michal Rozsioval and the injured Adrain Aucoin who is expected back in Game 2. When down a goal, Coach Tippet can load up the PP with Eckman-Larsson and Yandle. When ahead by one either game breaker is on the ice 45+ minutes per game.
Edge: Phoenix.

Goal: Mike Smith has the better numbers but IMO that has more to do with benefiting from playing on a deeper, more complete team with the better D. Jonathon Quick has been simply breathtaking. He will have to continue. Quick has a flaw in that he’s over aggressive when coming out to challenge shooters. Phoenix has the big bodies to exploit it. As with all butterfly goaltenders Quick is vulnerable upstairs and those 7 and 9 holes between the elbows and the ribs.
Edge: Los Angeles.

Coaching: Tippett has been with his team longer. He’s had more time to establish his system. Sutter came in at mid-season. The ‘Yotes has been slow steady. The Kings meteoric. Tippett has the more balanced team. Sutter has to ride his stars. he certainly has two in Kopitar and Doughty. Kopitar particularly could be Selke/Byng candidate much like Red Wings Pavel Datsyuk.
Edge: Even.

Prediction: Call me biased but I’m not giving these Kings squat until they earn it. Phoenix in 5.

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