Western Conference Final Predictions: Phoenix Coyotes vs. Los Angeles Kings


2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs - Western Conference Final

Phoenix Coyotes ( 3 ) vs. Los Angeles Kings ( 8 )
The Los Angeles Kings are eliminating teams in numerical order in this year's Stanley Cup playoffs. First, it was the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks. Then the little team that could in the St. Louis Blues, the second-best team in the West. Now, LA looks to the final division winner, the Phoenix Coyotes, on their potential route to an unlikely appearance in the Stanley Cup Final. If they make it, it'll be their first such appearance since 1993 when they lost to the Montreal Canadiens, and they've already gone further than they have since that year, where even Wayne Gretzky couldn't get the job done. Can Jonathan Quick, Anze Kopitar and the rest of their rag-tag group do what the Great One couldn't?
Most of the people casually jumping on the bandwagon (us included here at TCL) would probably say yes. But there's still one big challenge standing in their way, and that's the other team that no one expected to win a series. Mike Smith has backstopped an even unlikelier group of players to their first West finals appearance ever, knocking off a cup-favored Nashville Predators team and 2010 cup winners, the Chicago Blackhawks in the process. 
No one has given either of these teams a fighting chance. The question now is, which bandwagon do we jump on? Logic would dictate that you'd go with the Kings. The goaltender is more proven, the forwards more talented and the defense maybe more complete by a smidgen. But if anyone has proven that what's on paper, what might seem logical might end up making no sense at all, it's the Phoenix Coyotes.
Consensus: 10 of 12 TCL writers predict the Kings to take the West in 6 games.
Round 2 Results:
Coyotes vs. Predators: Not one TCL writer correctly predicted the Coyotes to win their series.
Kings vs. BluesOnly 5 of 12 TCL writers predicted the Kings to advance over the Blues.
Game 1: Sun. May 13 at 7:30PM in Phoenix
Game 2: Tue. May 15 at 8:30PM in Phoenix
Game 3: Thu. May 17 at 8:30PM in Los Angeles
Game 4: Sun. May 20 at 3PM in Los Angeles
Game 5: Tue. May 22 at 9PM in Phoenix (if necessary)
Game 6: Thu. May 24 at 9PM in Los Angeles (if necessary)
Game 7: Sat. May 26 at 8PM in Phoenix (if necessary)
*All Puckdrops are in Eastern Standard Time*
Season Series: 3-3, Los Angeles outscored Phoenix 14-12. All but one were 1-goal games.
Previous Meetings: None.
Coaching Battle: Dave Tippett vs. Darryl Sutter
Key Injuries:
Phoenix: Kurt Sauer (concussion, done), Raffi Torres (suspension, 25 games)
Los Angeles: Simon Gagne (concussion, indefinitely)
Genius Or Madness?
Robert D'Aurelio - Coyotes in 7
Phoenix is the truest definition of Cinderella and they'll move onto the Cup finals on the backs on their goalie and captain. This series will be so low scoring it'll bore everyone to tears, maybe even the players. These two teams will lock it down and hope to capitalize on the others' mistakes. I think the Yotes will out skate and out grind the Kings. Getting to the cup finals will be very physically taxing against a team like the Kings, and I think LA might just underestimate who Phoenix actually is.
Maggie Avila - Coyotes in 7
Phoenix has shown they can skate with a fast, finesse team like the Blackhawks and they can play with a physical defensive team like the Predators. Can they beat a fast, physical defensive team like the LA KIngs? I think they can. This will be a brutal series and I do think the winner of this series will be the next Stanley Cup Champion. LA has had trouble scoring in the past that being the case they will have a very hard time scoring on Smith and the Yotes. Both Goalies have been outstanding but Mike Smith is in a zone right now it's his time.
Prax's Take

I'm finally going to jump on the Kings Bandwagon. In the first round, I thought a much deeper Canucks team would make quick work (no pun intended) of Los Angeles. In the second round, I thought the Blues were going to match up with them in goaltending and beat them with defense and a system that had led to all their success so far. But it wasn't meant to be. The Blues have absolutely decimated the top two teams in the west, and there's really no reason why they can't do the same with team #3.

Of course, the same could be said about the Phoenix Coyotes. While I picked the Coyotes to defeat the Blackhawks in the first round, but I did so as an upset. In round two, I picked the Predators -- literally everyone did. But I really don't think it's a matter of everyone underestimating an underrated team. I truly don't understand why the Coyotes are here. Yes, there's Mike Smith, Dave Tippett and their responsible play, but it really doesn't make any sense to me.

I'm probably setting myself up for another failure here, but the Kings should win this one, right? I mean, it's the Cinderella story. They take out the first seed, then the second seed, now the third seed, before being brutally murdered by the East's best team in the finals. That how these things normally work. Either way, both these teams seem to be proving that things don't always go as planned.
Prediction: Kings in 5
Around The Checking Line:
Featured Write -- Adam Pardes
I'm not gonna reiterate the whole "Kings are the best 8th seed ever!" thing -- fact is, they played like crap for most of the season and Jonathan Quick saved their collective asses. Now that their offense has found a way to score more than one goal per game, Quick's hard work is paying dividends for LA. The Coyotes have played a scrappy sort of game in front of a hot goaltender in order to get this far in the playoffs. Phoenix has shown that they have a knack for finding a way to win games, but I do the Kings will outlast the 'Yotes in this series.
Prediction: Kings in 6
Featured Writer -- Hockeybroad
This year's Kings remind me of the 2009-2010 Blackhawks team: scoring from 5+ players across all 4 lines; young goaltender (Quick went under the radar in the regular season but thankfully was acknowledged w/Vezina nod); physical. The Coyotes are grinding out goals - and wins - but for them, if Smith falters, they'll have issues. This is one series where Torres's physicality will be missed for sure by Phoenix. The Yotes out-muscled the Blackhawks (honestly, not all that hard to do the past 2 seasons), and edged the Preds, who didn't play their best. The Kings are white-hot, firing on all cylinders, and are just clicking every single game, it's a lot of fun to watch them.
Prediction: Kings in 6
Featured Writer -- Kyle Andrew Busch
The Kings aren't your prototypical eighth seed. They played like they were asleep most of the year and now they finally woke up. Picked as favourites at the beginning of the year, it shouldn't be a surprise that they came this far and dominated the first and second seeds in the West. Jonathan Quick is a stud; his style is so different from any other goaltender that he can steal games. The only reason I think Phoenix is still here is Mike Smith, and I'm predicting his magic is going to wear off soon. The Kings will take the first two in Phoenix and take home ice advantage back to LaLa land. Smith will help the Yotes steal one, but there's no way Phoenix will be in the Stanley Cup Final. Feel free to read that again.
Prediction: Kings in 5
Andy Veilleux:
The Coyotes have rode Smith in the playoffs so far, but have played solid hockey as well. The Kings are full of clutch performers who have played in many big games. Richards and Brown have this team steering in the right direction, anchored by Doughty and Greene. The loss of Johnson has surprisingly not hurt the team's defense, and Quick is looking phenomenal in net as always. How long can Smith and the Coyotes keep this up? I predict not long.
Prediction: Kings in 6
Bryan Wright:
*DING* *DING* *DING* Uh oh...sounds like the clock is striking midnight! But which team's bus is turning back into a pumpkin!? That's easy, the Coyotes. Yes, they won the divison, over LA, and yes they beat a couple of good teams to get this far, but how much longer can it possible last? Well, six games. The Kings have better skaters and a better goalie. Seems to me that should make for a better team. I'd pick LA to win a little quicker, but since I've been so very, very wrong on the previous two series, this time I'll be a little less harsh on the team and their dozens of fans.
Prediction: Kings in 6
Chuck Gaston Jr.:
The Kings are on a roll right now and it is going to take something big to stop it. They are just as big, strong, talented, fast, and defensively sound as any team in the league. No matter what you seem to throw at them, they have an answer. I do not think the Coyotes have what it takes to derail the kings, especially with the young players on LA stepping up big time.
Prediction: Kings in 6
David Collins: 
The Los Angeles Kings have all the makings of a Stanley Cup winning team, and it starts with their goal-tending. Jonathan Quick has been solid between the pipes since October, and if need be he will steal a game or two for the Kings in this series. The Kings have proven in these playoffs that they shouldn't have been an eighth seed, and have quickly gone from under-dogs to favorites, and with good reason. The Coyotes have proven that they will not be under-estimated as well, but the Kings have the talent and the momentum to overcome any challenge. The LA Kings will be in this years Stanley Cup Final.
Prediction: Kings in 5
John Russo:
The hockey gods have finished laughing at me finally. Yes, the Yotes won in five instead of rolling over to the Preds and Mike Smith is now a god... WRONG! I still don't get the Phoenix hype and I will still not hop on their bandwagon. Los Angeles is NOT an 8-seed team by the way they have man-handled the top two teams in the West this playoffs. LA knocked off both Vancouver and St. Louis in just nine games, thanks mostly to a goalie not pretending to be a Vezina candidate in Jon Quick. Yes, I am sipping the Haterade hard and I won't deny it, that is why I am being nice and saying the Yotes will win a couple games this series.
Prediction: Kings in 6
Nick Symon:
Who guessed this match-up for the West Final, I certainly did not but I don't think I;m alone on that one. These two teams are very evenly matched as both teams have rode red hot goalies to this point. Mike Smith and Jonathan Quick are both candidates for the Conns Smythe and it will be tough to see one of them go. The Kings have more firepower up front and more experience so I like them in 6.
Prediction: Kings in 6