WCF: Los Angeles Kings @ Phoenix Coyotes Game 1: Start Off On A High Note

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 26: Matt Greene #2 of the Los Angeles Kings scuffles with Taylor Pyatt #14 of the Phoenix Coyotes after the play in the third period during the NHL game at Staples Center on December 26, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Kings defeated the Coyotes 4-3. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

Tonight the Western Conference Finals begin with the Phoenix Coyotes taking on the visiting Los Angeles Kings, with the winner earning the right to compete for the ultimate prize in sports, the Stanley Cup. For many of the Coyotes this is the furthest they have ever been in the playoffs, but the veterans on the team like Ray Whitney know that they are not close to being done yet. In order for the Coyotes to advance they are going to playing their division rivals, the Kings. Both of these teams enjoyed being the underdogs in their previous series, and both never trailed in those series, all that is going to change after tonight. The Coyotes will be playing without one of their key defensemen, Adrian Aucoin, who was injured in the fifth game against Nashville, although David Schlemko has filled in for various Coyotes defensemen during their playoff run so hopefully he can continue playing well.

Five For Howling Previews

Special Teams

Defensemen

Forwards

Goalies

Five For Winning

1. Get an early lead. The Coyotes do much better when they aren't chasing the game, and we can't expect Quick to gave up the same weak goals that Corey Crawford did.

2. Shot everything. Quick isn't used to taking the same amount of shots on goal that Mike Smith had too, hopefully getting a lot of rubber on net will allow the Yotes to figure out how exactly to beat him.

3. Win the faceoffs. Faceoffs are going to be especially important in our zone. Luckily this was something that we did very well in the last two series and it needs to continue. Winning the faceoffs helped us win games.

4. Special teams. Not only do the Coyotes need to continue having a strong penalty kill that they have had, but they need to get their power play going. The power play unit is going to have to be good on two fronts, they need to net goals and they also need stop the Kings penalty killers from getting a short handed goal like they have in their past two series.

5. Play physical. I saw in an article that Dustin Brown thinks that these teams are pretty even but he thinks the Kings are the more aggressive team. The Coyotes need to to show him just how wrong he is, but remember to keep it clean. We don't want another suspension like the one Rostislav Klesla had to serve.

Players To Watch


Ray Whitney

#13 / Left Wing / Phoenix Coyotes

5-10

180

May 08, 1972



G A P +/- PIM
2011 - Ray Whitney 24 53 77 26 28

Ray Whitney is the only Coyote with his name on the Stanley Cup and they are going to need him to be a leader in the locker room and on the ice tonight. Part of him being a leader is scoring goals which he has been doing somewhat during the playoffs, but we are going to need more from him.


Dustin Brown

#23 / Right Wing / Los Angeles Kings

6-0

204

Nov 04, 1984



G A P +/- PIM
2011 - Dustin Brown 22 32 54 18 53

I think that the Kings captain Dustin Brown is going to be leading the team tonight playing strong and the Coyotes are going to need to slow him down. He hasn't exactly been quiet during the Kings last two series either, he has 6 goals and 5 assists.

Starting Goalies


Mike Smith

#41 / Goalie / Phoenix Coyotes

6-4

215

Mar 22, 1982



GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2011 - Mike Smith 67 3903 38 18 144 2.21 2066 1922 .930 8


Jonathan Quick

#32 / Goalie / Los Angeles Kings

6-1

212

Jan 21, 1986



GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2011 - Jonathan Quick 69 4099 35 21 133 1.95 1863 1730 .929 10

This will truly be a battle of goalies, both of these goaltenders are playing absolutely amazing during the playoffs. The loser of the Finals will most likely be the goalie who blinks first

Injuries


Phoenix Coyotes Injuries

Probable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Rostislav Klesla other-excused 05/13/2012

Questionable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Adrian Aucoin undisclosed 05/10/2012
Adrian Aucoin undisclosed 05/10/2012
Adrian Aucoin undisclosed 05/10/2012

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Adrian Aucoin undisclosed 05/13/2012

Note I haven't heard anything about Klesla missing tonight's game.


Los Angeles Kings Injuries

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Scott Parse hip 11/09/2011
Simon Gagne concussion 12/27/2011

Remember to come back here in just over 2 hours for the game day thread.

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