Tag Archives: Phoenix Coyotes

2012 NHL Playoff Preview: Conference Championship

Phoenix Coyotes (#3) vs. LA Kings (#8)

I guess it’s time that I give the Los Angeles Kings their due. They have now handily dispatched the best two teams in the Western Conference in a mere 9 games. Goaltender Jonathan Quick has been ridiculously good with a 1.55 GAA and 94.9% save percentage. Against the Canucks they were winning close games, against St. Louis they were just plain winning averaging an extra goal per game. Apart from Dustin Brown no one has been dominating the Kings games but they have had a nice balanced attack spreading the goal scoring wealth among all 4 lines. It’s a good time to be a sports fan in LA as they have two basketball teams in the playoffs, a hot start from the Dodgers and the Kings looking like the favorite to reach the Stanley Cup Finals. The Kings certainly are following the formula of recent success in the NHL Playoffs. A low seed who guts their way through “superior” competition riding the hot hand of it’s goalie. On the other side of the ice we find a kind of Cinderella story of it’s own right in the Phoenix Coyotes. Phoenix was a three seed going into the playoffs but their historical lack of playoff success and perceived over achievement kept them fr4om getting the respect that position normally garners. Being on the better side of three out of five overtime games against the Blackhawks hardened them to then take it to the next level against the Predators.

The Preds/Yotes series was extremely close but the suffocating defense of the Coyotes coupled with the stellar play of goaltender Mike Smith was enough to carry them forward to the Conference Finals for the first time since they were the Winnipeg Jets and fodder for Gretzky’s Oilers in the 80’s. Mike Smith would perhaps be giving perhaps the best performance by a goaltender in the playoff this year if it wasn’t for the absolute dominance of Jonathan Quick so it will be interesting to see which of these two steals this series. As good as Smith has been he has also been greatly aided by the incredible amount of shot blocking Phoenix has been employing throughout the playoffs. The Coyotes has been impressive in their willingness to sacrifice the body and have shown an overall toughness that the team has been lacking in previous playoff performances. It would be a great story for lifetime Coyote Shane Doan to finally make it to the Stanley Cup Finals. Any way you cut it this should be an incredibly intense and exciting series and we should expect a lot of close games. Despite Quick’s dominance I’m going to give Phoenix the edge in this series as they have been battle tested in close games winning six games by one goals and four of those in overtime.

Prediction: Coyotes in 6

NY Rangers (#1) vs. New Jersey Devils (#6)

The New York Rangers have not made it easy on themselves this postseason taking both of their series to 7 games and just haven’t had that dominating presence that they had in the regular season. You can’t blames Lundqvist who has been playing really well but finding the back of the net has not been easy and eleven of their fourteen games so far have been decided one way or the other by one goal. This probably shouldn’t come as a huge surprise as this was kind of their MO all season long however it always seemed like they could take it to the next level when they needed to which has been harder to accomplish this post season. The onus is on Marian Gaborik, who netted 41 goals in the regular season, to elevate his game against the Devils. He hasn’t been bad but he definitely hasn’t been putting the fear of God in opponents goaltenders either.

The New Jersey Devils have been one of the more feel good stories of the post season. After taking it to the limit against the plucky Panthers in seven games the Devils grounded the Flyers handily in five games. The Devils stars Kovalchuk, Parise and Zajac have started finding the back of the net and while 40-year-old Martin Broduer has not been his old dominant self he has been solid between the pipes. This Devils teams has been kind of an enigma over the last couple of seasons alternating between utter dominance and utter futility. So far this post season they have been pretty darned good but yo never know when the bottom if going to fall out with this team. It will be interesting to see how New Jersey fares against an elite goaltender like Henrik Lundqvist because so far they have faced pretty mediocre netminders in whomever plays for Florida and the headcase that is Ilya Bryzgalov. Overall I think the Rangers still have the edge in this series talent wise and unless year 2000 Martin Broduer walks through the door the Rangers should be able to gut it out against their across river rivals.

Prediction: Rangers in 6

Best case scenario for Gary Bettman and the NHL national interest speaking is that the Rangers and Kings advance adding a chapter to the East-Coast West-Coast rivalry so you know the more likely scenario is that we get the series that almost no one will care about Phoenix vs New Jersey….

2012 NHL Playoff Preview: Conference Semifinals


Just for the record: In my first round playoff preview I only predicted half of the games correctly and got one series exactly correct (Phoenix in 6). There also will be no repeat of last year’s Stanley cup Finals as both Vancouver and Boston were eliminated.

Phoenix Coyotes (#3) vs. Nashville Predators (#4)

By taking care of business versus Chicago the Coyotes advance into the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 25 years and the first time since moving to the desert. The first five games of their series against the Black Hawks went into overtime, an NHL first, and youngster Mikkel Boedeker got back-to-back game winning goals. With Hanzl and Vrbata battling some injuries and Shane Doan skating his way out of quality scoring chances they had to rely on the likes of newcomer Antoine Vermette to put the puck in the net. What most people will remember from this series however is the head shot Raffi Torres laid on Marion Hossa that garnered him a hefty 25-game suspension. Nashville, on the other hand, took out Phoenix’s greatest playoff kryptonite in the Red Wings. Detroit just didn’t have that killer instinct this year and Nashville was able to grind away a series victory bolstered by the strong play in net by Pekka Rinne. Rinne and Phoenix’s Mike Smith were both brilliant in the first round posting identical 1.81 GAA albeit with Smith appearing in an extra game. This should be a really good grind it out series that probably no one will watch. Phoenix and Nashville aren’t exactly hockey hubs and certainly won’t attract the casual fan. With goaltending being even I give Phoenix the slight edge in offense and nastiness.

Prediction: Phoenix in 7 with at least four overtimes.

“We love overtime games.”

Continue reading 2012 NHL Playoff Preview: Conference Semifinals

2012 NHL Playoffs Preview: Round 1 – West

Just a couple quick notes before we get to the match ups:

To check out my feelings on the Eastern Conference playoffs go here.

Last night was the NHL Draft Lottery and the Edmonton Oilers got the right to choose #1 overall for the third year in a row. The poor Columbus Blue Jackets can’t even win a lottery at 88% odds… at least the have the All-Star game next year.

Vancouver Canucks (51-22-9) vs. Los Angeles Kings (40-27-15)

Yawn! The Vancouver Canucks again dominate the regular season garnering the best overall record in the NHL and will soon enough be Canadian residents only rooting interest in the playoffs. Daniel Sedin, the Canucks leading goalscorer, has been sidelined with a concussion since March 21st.  He has been skating lately so it is still to be determined whether or not Wonder-Twin Powers will be activated anytime soon in Vancouver. The bigger controversy in Vancouver surrounds goaltending. Roberto Luongo is notoriously soft in pressure situations and his backup Corey Schneider has been seeing a larger load this year and dominating in that role. It will be interesting to see how long a leash the Canucks apply to Luongo or even if they have enough cajones to start Schneider outright. Either way, I still think Vancouver has enough guns and talent to get by the Kings in the first round. As short as a week ago LA was sitting in control of the 3rd playoff spot but after a wild and wooly finish to the season LA has been leapfrogged by San Jose and Phoenix to be left with the unhappy task of facing the Canucks in the first round. At least they’re in for a short flight home and LA residents can refocus on the Lakers.

Continue reading 2012 NHL Playoffs Preview: Round 1 – West

NHL: The Stars Re-Align…Along with 29 Other Teams

The NHL Board of Governors officially approved league re-alignment earlier this month paring the current six divisions down to four larger ones based more closely on the geographic location of the teams. The new-look NHL will include two eight-team “Western Conference” divisions and two seven-team “Eastern Conference” divisions breaking down as follows:

The “Wild Wild West” Division: Anaheim, Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose and Vancouver.

The “Middle America” Division: Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg.

The “Northeast and Florida” Division: Boston, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and Toronto.

The “Subway” Division: Carolina, New Jersey, NY Islanders, NY Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington.

Essentially this re-alignment was made to appease bitchy fans of Detroit, Dallas and Columbus who incessantly complain about staying up late to watch games that are out of their time zone. While the travel schedules will indeed be more appealing to the teams, they will nonetheless be punished with visits to lovely Winnipeg 2-3 times a year. The unbalanced divisions does give some legs to the rumors that Commandant Bettman will finally allow the Coyotes to leave Phoenix though. If the Yotes moved to Quebec City it would re-balance the “East”, but imagine the confusion a new Nordiques franchise could impose on a casual Hockey fan…

  Continue reading NHL: The Stars Re-Align…Along with 29 Other Teams