NHL Playoffs 2012: L.A. Kings Poised to Eliminate Coyotes as They Did Canucks

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NHL Playoffs 2012: L.A. Kings Poised to Eliminate Coyotes as They Did Canucks
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Kings can eliminate the Phoenix Coyotes and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals with a win in Game 5 tonight.

After being shut out 2-0 in Game 4, the Kings' playoff record now sits at 11-2, with both losses coming when leading a series three games to none.

It was the Vancouver Canucks who managed to avoid being swept in Round 1 by defeating the Kings 3-1 in Game 4. Like the Coyotes, the Canucks played inspired hockey, led by their captain Henrik Sedin, who had a goal and an assist in the game.

The Kings lost to the Coyotes for the same reasons they lost Game 4 to the Canucks: they couldn’t match the intensity and desperation of their opponent, and they couldn’t score.

The Coyotes seemed to gather momentum after Shane Doan’s goal in the first period. For the first time in the series the Coyotes were able to effectively move the puck through the neutral zone. This gave them the opportunity to create scoring chances off the cycle.

However, even with the Coyotes' improved play up front, they were unable to out-shoot the Kings. Just like in Game 4 versus the Canucks, the Kings greatly outshot their opponent, but couldn’t beat a stellar goaltender.

Mike Smith was the difference in Game 4, stopping 36 shots for the shutout. Can he repeat that performance in Game 5?

 

Prediction

Who will win Game 5?

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Like Vancouver's Cory Schneider in the first round, Smith will put together another brilliant performance in Game 5, but it won’t be enough to save the Coyotes.

The Kings haven’t lost back-to-back games since the end of the regular season which, incidentally, is also the last time they lost on the road.

Expect the Kings to bounce back in the desert and eliminate the Coyotes in Game 5 of the Western Conference final. It will be a tight game and both goalies will shine, but it will be the Kings winning by a goal, 2-1.

The difference will be a strong Kings' forecheck, which will put pressure on the Coyotes' defense. The sustained offensive zone attack will lead to turnovers by the Coyotes, which will give the Kings' forwards the chance to send their team to the Stanley Cup Finals. 

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