Saturday, May 12, 2012

Western Conference Finals: (3) Phoenix Coyotes vs. (8) Los Angeles Kings

Two teams that many counted out before it started, two teams who no one thought would get out of the second round, two teams who will now fight to see who will get the Stanley Cup Finals. The Pacific Division will be represented in the Finals for the first time in five years.

Obviously, the big match-up is going to be Jon Quick and Mike Smith-- who will be more frustrating to solve. Smith has had many adventures away from the net, but his recovery and smothering style is going to be tough for the Kings to deal with. While he doesn't have much star help in front of him, Smith and the Coyotes know how to get the job done. Quick has been equally as amazing and really has used his strong defense to help him out in the past couple of series. It should be an interesting chess match for both sides.

Offensively, the Coyotes have gotten a lot from their blue-line with Keith Yandle and Rostislav Klesla providing seven points apiece; but how much space will they see with the Kings covering their points a little better than teams playing before them?? Antoine Vermette has also played very exceptionally well, as has Mikkel Boedker. The Kings have had their big guys be their big guys-- Dustin Brown being the leader they expected him to be, Anze Kopitar has been a great playmaker, while Mike Richards has been getting his magic back from the Flyers 2010 Playoff run. Even Dustin Penner and Justin Williams are getting into it-- and I don't think Jeff Carter has peaked just yet.

In the end, it's a question of how well Dave Tippett and Darryl Sutter coach off each other. Both have been great at the chess match and got the pairings against the top lines perfect. Both are proven in the playoffs and now it's just a matter on who you'd rather have making the big decision when it needs to be made. While Sutter may have more weapons at his disposal, Tippett may have the better cohesive unit around him.

PREDICTION: This one will go the distance, but I think in the end-- the Los Angeles Kings will outlast the West. They have a solid coach who has been there before and changed the team's demeanor. Jon Quick has been amazing and I don't think we've seen the best out of the Kings top stars just yet.

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