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Following a heated Western Conference Finals, the rivalry and hatred between the Phoenix Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings should only continue to grow.
Familiarity can lead to contempt in sports, and as division rivals, the Phoenix Coyotes know more than they'd care to regarding the Los Angeles Kings. The two teams have always had a fairly heated rivalry even before last season's Western Conference Final, which saw dirty play, suspensions, controversy, and quite a bit of lasting hate to take forward to future meetings. Just imagine how much more fun it could have been if Raffi Torres was actually playing.
Before we delve too far into that five game series last fall, remember that these two teams have been regularly squaring off six times each season with guys like Paul Bissonnette and Kevin Westgarth throwing haymakers at one another on an almost nightly basis (over the past two seasons, they've squared off for three pretty epic bouts). Coyotes fans will vividly recall the epic February 16, 2012 game that saw four total fights as the Coyotes took a 1-0 victory over LA at the Staples Center. That game featured four fights as will be discussed a bit further below. Also don't forget the Coyotes epic 5-4 come-from-behind win on February 21 at Jobing.com Arena which was capped off by a thrilling Mikkel Boedker shootout goal. That game also featured this very late, blind-side hit by Kyle Clifford on Gilbert Brule. Suffice to say that even before the Western Conference Finals, these two teams didn't exactly like each other.
Of course, in the end, the Kings won the Stanley Cup last year and will have a massive target on their back and no team should be more motivated to exact some revenge than the Desert Dogs.
Persona non grata numero uno in Phoenix when hockey resumes is Dustin Brown, whose knee-on-knee hit against Michal Rozsival in overtime of Game 5 immediately preceded Dustin Penner's series ending goal, and Shane Doan and Keith Yandle completely losing their minds. It wasn't even close to Brown's first incident with the Coyotes just last season, as this hit he made against Rostislav Klesla earlier in the year that put Klesla down with a likely concussion for several weeks and earned Brown a good ass whooping at the hands of Doan. Oh yeah, there were three other fights in that game alone - good times. All the appearances with Yo Gabba Gabba Live aren't going to change anyone in Phoenix's opinion of Brown. Anyway, the Phanatic did it better.
Moving away from Brown to the Conn Smythe winner, I've never had much love for Jonathan Quick. Not because he isn't an elite goalie; he clearly is pretty good between the pipes. My issue with Quick has always been the remarkable way that his helmet flies off all the time. Seemingly any time a team is putting pressure in the crease, Quick's helmet goes flying into the corner to blow the play dead. Here's a good example where he seemingly throws his helmet off after taking a shot to the grill. So yeah, screw Quick too.
As for the rest of Flyers West, they can pretty much piss off. Mike Richards and Jeff Carter are back together and apparently have found the right mix of partying and practicing to allow them to actually win a cup - way to get that done a year too late boys! We can all agree that Anze Kopitar is a zombie and a sign that the end of days are near and Dustin Penner's pancake-related injuries reflect what a tool that guy is. I'm sure there are plenty more reasons that our wonderful commentors will be able to add.
In fact, the only thing that might salvage the Kings is that longtime Phoenix Coyotes head equipment manager Stan Wilson's son is an assistant equipment manager for Los Angeles and the FS Arizona ran a cool special on the two of them at one point that I can't seem to track down online...but yeah, that's not nearly enough reason to actually like this team.
Here's to hoping that the team that couldn't score more than 3 goals in a game for 16 games at one point last season, or was held to 1 or fewer goals 29 times is back on the ice for the majority of the upcoming season. NO KINGS NO! BEAT LA!