Holy Moly! Can someone pinch me? The Kings lead the series in the Western Conference Finals 2 games to none. Wow. This is a very exciting and confusing time for Kings fans. We are so happy yet so very cautious. I find people saying things to me like “hey! you’re going all the way!” or Can’t wait to see you against Rangers!” and the first thing I do? Cringe and knock on wood to negate those phrases. Again, hard time for us. Very cautiously optimistic and completely lost. I feel so jealous of fans of teams who are very strong in their convictions of their teams. They are shocked! shocked I say! when their team loses. I want to be like that. But not quite yet. First we have a couple of games to win.
The NHL has issued its rulings and Martin Hanzal is receiving a one-game suspension for his hit on Dustin Brown. There will be no disciplined issued to Shane Doan, Derek Morris or Mike Smith for their hits. This is both good and bad news. Good, because that was an extremely dangerous hit and could have caused any number of problems, and bad because the NHL is not following any guidelines. The same hit has had suspensions for multiple games from this season on other players and other teams. There should be at least some type of written criteria and not just one man’s opinions. But I don’t want to get into that right now. We just need to know that the loss of Hanzal in this game is justified.
Over at Five For Howling, a Phoenix Coyotes blog, they have a great little article on what to do to win tonight against the Kings. They call is “Five For Winning” and state five facts the Coyotes need to do to get a win in our house. I thought I’d go through each one and tell it like it really is. Here is theirs (you can read the rest of their article here):
Five For Winning
1. Stay get disciplined. The Kings are in the Coyotes heads for various reasons including their lead in the series. The Yotes need to stay disciplined and not do anything else stupid.
2. Win the faceoffs. This was a point of pride for the first two series but not something that the Yotes were able to carry into the Conference Finals. They need to not only win the faceoffs this game but control the puck for an extended period after that.
3. Clear the zone. The Kings forecheck is one of their points of pride, a well deserved point of pride, but the Coyotes need to do something to limit that forecheck and one of the best ways to do that is keep them from having extended time in the Yote’s zone.
4. Score first. This one doesn’t really need explanation.
5. Play off the Kings’ crowds energy. The Desert Dogs were able to do this in Chicago and Nashville, they feed all the negativity of their opponents crowd and they use it to do better. Since this is the first game we are going to learn if they can do this again.
Rebuttal to Five for Winning
1. Kings need to get under the Coyotes hairy skins like they have the past two games. Coyotes lack of discipline has a lot to do with why we are up two games. Start with Smith (if he is playing) and continue with Doan. They seem to fall like dominoes after Doan gets upset.
2. The Kings won 26 of 64 faceoffs (41 percent) in game 2 which was a lot worse actually than game 1 when the Kings won 40 of 70 faceoffs (57 percent). Although winning the faceoff is always recommended, this hasn’t really helped the Yotes so far. Kings can do better on the faceoffs tonight. Stoll was great in the first game but dropped in the 2nd. Hopefully we can see him pick it up tonight.
3. This is where the Kings are doing great. They are using their big bodies and keeping the puck in the Coyotes zone and putting the pucks on net. The Kings outshot the Coyotes 48-27 in Game 1, then 40-24 in Game 2. That’s a significant difference and one that will pay over time.
Keeping them away from our zone and in theirs just shows how effective the King’s defense is playing. I mean, do you want to mess with this face?
4. Scoring first. No rebuttal to this one except it needs to be us. We need to continue to come out fast and strong. More of the same please.
5. This one is funny. Phoenix has not been to our house during a playoff game. Believe me, Yotes, there will be no way in hell that you will be able to feed off our negativity. You know why? Because we really don’t have any. We are too fricken ecstatic to be here and all our cheering is to support our team. Besides the occasional smiiiith, you won’t hear a lot of negativity from our crowd. Just happy noise.
So there you go Coyote fans, your five points are all good points, but they won’t do you any good tonight.
The Kings have a mindset that they must do better. Sutter is definitely pounding this message in their heads. After the game Tuesday, Sutter said, “Well, I didn’t think tonight we were especially great. I thought we were better the first game than we were tonight.” And after Carter got his hat-trick, he went on to say, “I thought we did a fairly good job both games. Still think we have some room for improvement, which is obviously a good thing being up 2-0.” This is where our guys are coming from. They want to do better and with the Coyotes probably coming out very disciplined tonight, this is the right mindset to have.
The lineup remains the same. Clifford is still in for Fraser but Fraser is back in town and will probably be in Sunday’s game.
# 23 Brown– # 11 Kopitar – # 14 Williams
# 25 Penner– # 10 Richards – # 77 Jeff Carter
# 74 King – # 28 Stoll – # 22 Lewis
# 13 Clifford – # 15 Richardson – # 71 Nolan
# 7 Scuderi – # 8 Doughty
# 33 Mitchell – # 26 Voynov
# 27 Martinez –# 2 Greene
# 32 Quick #
#13 Ray Whitney – # ? – #17 Radim Vrbata
#89 Mikkel Boedker – #50 Antoine Vermette – #19 Shane Doan
#14 Taylor Pyatt – #15 Boyd Gordon – #43 Marc-Antoine Pouliot
#24 Kyle Chipchura – #22 Daymond Langkow – #8 Gilbert Brule
#23 Oliver Ekman-Larsson – #32 Michal Rozsival
#3 Keith Yandle – #6 David Schlemko
#16 Rostislav Klesla – #53 Derek Morris
#41 Mike Smith
#1 Jason LaBarbera
Go Kings Go!