Top five reasons Kings will be tough to topple
CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency
|Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick is congratulated by teammate Willie Mitchell defeating the Coyotes in Game 2 of the NHL Western Conference final at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Ariz., May 15, 2012. (DARRYL WEBB/Reuters)
LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Kings are in control of the Western Conference final, up 2-0 on the Phoenix Coyotes after running their road record in these playoffs to 7-0 with a pair of wins in Arizona.
The Kings are looking like a very big rock that is rolling down a very steep hill, having already squished the Vancouver Canucks and the St. Louis Blues and now have the Coyotes on the run, eyes wide and a grim look on their faces as they try to prevent being steamrolled.
Here five reasons why the Kings are dominating the Coyotes and will make it tough for the Desert Dogs to get back in this series.
1. Size and depth: The Kings, particularly their forwards, have been running roughshod over the Coyotes. The Kings have three guys -- Anze Kopitar, Dustin Penner and Dwight King -- who go better than 225 pounds. The Coyotes have one, Martin Hanzal, and won't play in Game 3 Thursday night after being suspended one game for his hit from behind on Kings captain Dustin Brown in Game 2. The Kings are big but have still been the ones pushing the tempo in the first two games. That's a killer combination. They also getting good shifts from their whole lineup, including the guys on the fourth line like King, who has three goals in this series, and Jordan Nolan, who's been getting under the Coyotes' skin.
2. Coyotes losing their cool: They looked like they were a frustrated bunch in Game 2. Goaltender Mike Smith fed Kings forward Justin Williams his trapper at one point and, of course, looked more like Billy Smith when he chopped down Brown. There were a bunch of hacks and whacks. If the Coyotes are going to get back in this series, they can't be giving a team like the Kings free shots with a parade to the penalty box.
3. Not so Quick: Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick was supposed to be a game-changer for the Kings in his series, but he hasn't needed to be. His most memorable moment so far has been giving up a goal in Game 1 on a 98-foot shot by Coyotes defenceman Derek Morris. He's been good, but only because he hasn't been called on to be great. This shaped up as a duel between Smith and Quick, but it hasn't been. Funny, but that's usually the way it turns out when one team's forwards don't really get close to the other team's goaltender.
4. Power play: The Kings scored just four power-play goals going into the Western Conference final, but, thanks to the two boarding majors taken by Coyotes captain Shane Doan and Hanzal, coupled with minor penalties that handed the Kings a couple of 5-on-3 situations, they scored two power-play goals in Game 2 and maybe have a bit more confidence now. Even Jeff Carter, who had one goal in the playoffs, is potting them now.
5. Hole in the middle: The Coyotes were already overmatched at centre with the way the Kings pivots are playing and now they won't have Hanzal for Game 3. They will probably move Lauri Korpikoski into the middle and bump everybody else up a spot. The Coyotes line centred by Boyd Gordon did a better job against the Kopitar-Brown-Williams line in Game 2, but now Kings coach Darryl Sutter will have last change in the two games here and get the matchups he likes.