Who Will It Be: Potential Western Conference Final Matchups
The Los Angeles Kings are in, that much is known. The unknown is who their opponent will be. The likely matchup is that the Kings will face the Phoenix Coyotes in the Western Conference Final, as they have a firm 3-1 lead in their series over the Nashville Predators. It will be the first trip for either the Coyotes or the Predators once they make the third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Here is how the Kings fared in the regular season against both the Coyotes and Predators.
On October 20th, the Kings played in Phoenix for the first time and took away a 2-0 win in the second of three straight games in which Jonathan Quick posted a shutout. They then played again in Phoenix on October 29th, with the Coyotes winning in overtime, 3-2. They did not play again until December 26th, a 4-3 win for the Kings at Staples Center and the third game overall, and first against the Coyotes, for head coach Darryl Sutter behind the bench. The Kings then hosted the Coyotes on January 5th, a 1-0 win in overtime for the Kings at home. A month then passed, and the Coyotes won 1-0 in regulation at Staples Center on February 16th, the game featured on the NHL Network show NHL 36 that followed Mike Richards. In the final game between these two Pacific Division rivals, the Coyotes won at home in a shootout 5-4. This season, the Kings had a 3-1-2 record against the Coyotes and a goal differential of +1. If it is indeed the Kings and Coyotes in round three, expect it to be a goaltending duel with Mike Smith and Jonathan Quick in the spotlight.
The first game between the Kings and Predators was at Staples Center on November 8th, a game in which the Kings won 4-3. That game feature the teams two backup goaltenders in Jonathan Bernier for Los Angeles and Anders Lindback for Nashville. The second matchup was not until February 27th in Nashville, where the Predators won 2-1. They then played again on March 6th, where the Kings won 5-4 in Nashville and where Jonathan Quick earned his first career win against the Predators. In their final game of the year, the Kings won at home 4-2 in a game that was highlighted by the beautiful cross ice pass by Trevor Lewis that Dustin Penner tipped in for a goal. The Kings were 3-1 against the Predators this year and split the games in half with Bernier playing in two games with a 2-0 record and Quick playing in two games with a 1-1 record. The goal differential in the regular season series was a +3 in the Kings favor. With a potential matchup between two Veniza Trophy candidates, the suspensions of Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn bringing headlines, and the revamped offenses from both teams, means there are story lines a plenty. But before any of that, the Predators would have to win out in their series against the Coyotes if they want to meet the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Final.
Game 5 between Phoenix and Nashville is on NBC Sports Network at 7pm Pacific time and there is no doubt that there will be plenty of interested fans and players watching that game tonight.