Western Conference Finals Game 2 Preview
The Los Angeles Kings continued their strong post season play in game 1 of the Western Conference finals. Despite controlling the play throughout most of the game though, the score remained close until the end. Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick wasn’t his usual self allowing a goal from center ice, off the stick of Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris. You probably have a better chance at winning the lottery, then seeing another one like that go in during this series.
For the Phoenix Coyotes they just got to get back to playing a simple game. This is easier said then done of course. The Kings forecheck is fearless and as proof in game 1, as well as the first 2 playoff rounds, this team has the ability to knock other clubs off their games. While the Coyotes will adjust, this won’t be easy for them. The keys for them will be to make sure to keep the quality of scoring chances to a minimum, figure out a way to break the puck out of their own zone, as well as carry the puck over the Kings blue line without turning it over. Coyotes coach Dave Tippett is among the best in the business at adjusting, so expect his team to come out with more jump and structure in game 2.
Whatever the Coyotes do to adjust, we all have to remember one thing. Both the Vancouver Canucks and St. Louis Blues were trying the same thing. It just did not work against this Kings team. They are not only extremely deep up front and on the backend, but they also possess solid top end talent as well. If the Kings keep playing the way they have been, and their is no reason to think they won’t, then no matter what the Coyotes do to adjust, it may not be enough. Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith is going to have to absolutely stand on his head for his club to have a chance, if the adjustments don’t work.
A few key players that need to be better for the Coyotes up front, are veterans Ray Whitney and Radim Vrbata. Young defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson has had not only a great season, but a phenomenal post-season as well. He struggled though in game 1, just like the majority of his teammates. Ekman-Larsson needs to get back on track in game 2 and lead the defensive unit.
For the Kings, expect Jonathan Quick to return to form after fighting the puck the first 2 periods of game 1. Also Jeff Carter needs to be better. The right winger has only 1 goal throughout the playoffs thus far. He has been battling an ankle injury, but more production from the sniper will make life that much more difficult for Mike Smith and the rest of the Coyotes.