NHL Playoffs Predictions – Western Conference Finals Preview: Coyotes Kings
NHL Playoffs Predictions, Western Conference Finals Preview: Phoenix Coyotes Vs Los Angeles Kings – Jonathan Quick Vs Mike Smith, Phoenix Defense Vs Former-Flyers Offense + Anze Kopitar
The Western Conference Final features an 8th seed that took out the top two teams in the conference against the champion of their own division. In a conference where 8th place and 3rd was dictated by a single game, the NHL playoffs yet again produce an exciting matchup in one of the most unpredictable playoffs I can remember.
LA Kings Vs Phoenix Coyotes (+140)
The Kings have rode goaltending and timely scoring to the finals. Jonathan Quick, once thought to be on his way out of LA, has carried the Kings through the NHL playoffs. He outplayed the top goaltending tandem in hockey by beating the Blues, and his remarkable consistency outlasted the volatile, top-seeded Canucks. They also bolstered their offense at the trade deadline by reuniting Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. The Kings finally put it together offensively during this playoff run, with dynamic weapons like Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown shouldering the load with the ex-Flyers. They appear to be as complete a team as any left in the NHL playoffs.
The Coyotes lack the offensive balance of the LA Kings, but they have far better leadership and veteran presence. Few teams mirrored the dysfunction of the LA Kings at various points in the regular season, but the Coyotes have been one of the most consistent teams in the Western Conference playoff battle this year. They’ve also been known to get extremely hot throughout the season, but still managed to avoid the lengthy slumps of their division rivals. Mike Smith may be the hottest goaltender in the postseason, as demonstrated by the Coyotes’ latest series with the Nashville Predators. Mike Smith withstood barrages of shots and allowed his team to scrape together goals throughout the series.
Both teams are hot, both teams have excellent goaltending, only the Kings have a truly formidable offense, but the Coyotes are the more consistent team this year.
When I broke down the latest series between the Nashville Predators and Phoenix Coyotes, I thought all advantages pointed to the Preds. Nashville had a big-name goalie in Pekka Rinne that anchored one of the top defenses in the league all year. They also had several offensive weapons, particularly after bolstering the top line at the trade deadline and adding Alexander Radulov from Russia. It seems remarkably similar to the way the Kings are built. They have some weapons in Carter, Kopitar, and Brown that the Coyotes lack. Jonathan Quick is one of the best goalies in hockey, much like Pekka Rinne. However, I think the Coyotes can ride Mike Smith a bit further.
Smith is absolutely in the zone. When his team is dominated for multiple periods in a row (and they were for most of their last series), Mike Smith has been able to keep the Coyotes in the game. When Phoenix was outshot 16-1 in the third, Smith stood tall. I realize that Jonathan Quick is just as capable, but the way Smith is playing will keep the Coyotes in this series long enough for their desert magic to kick in and steal this one. There’s a bunch of value in the Coyotes with home ice advantage here, especially when they open the series as home underdogs at even money on Sunday.
Coyotes in Seven
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