X

NHL Playoffs 2012: L.A. Kings Will Close Out Overmatched Coyotes in Game 5

Brian Mazique@@UniqueMaziqueCorrespondent IIIMay 22, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 20:  Goaltender Jonathan Quick #32 of the Los Angeles Kings passes the puck in the third period while taking on the Phoenix Coyotes in Game Four of the Western Conference Final during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Staples Center on May 20, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Kings have toyed with the Phoenix Coyotes for long enough; now it's time to put this team to sleep for good.

After taking the first three games from the Coyotes, and outscoring them 10-3 in the process, the Kings faltered in Game 4. They were blanked by Mike Smith, who was absolutely outstanding for Phoenix with 36 saves.

Unfortunately for the Coyotes, a shutout performance from Smith is about the only way they can survive in this series. I predict the rest of this series will equate to just one more game, as the Kings are too good not to put away their opponents in Game 5. 

The Kings and their young core are ready to march into the Stanley Cup Finals. They were careless with the puck their last time out, as evidenced by their 11 giveaways, but that won't happen tonight.

It's an issue that has reared its head during this series, but in other games, the Kings have applied so much pressure they have overcome their miscues. I expect that to happen again in Game 5.

The Coyotes fans will be up in arms in an attempt to spur their team to victory on home ice, but the Kings are destined for the finals. This has been apparent since they swept the Blues in the second round. Some may have attributed their first-round upset of the Canucks as an example of Vancouver being overrated. But when the Kings manhandled the Blues, it was clear that they were the best in the West.

The Kings have simply seen things come together at the right time. The talent has been on this club for two years, but it took them until late this season to mature. They look like they are not just the class of the Western Conference, but the class of the entire NHL. All this from a team that is an eight seed.

When you take a step back and look at it, it's been a pretty amazing ride for the Kings.

In Game 5, we will see which of the mighty young Kings will be the hero. Will it be Anze Kopitar, who has five goals and 14 points in the postseason? Perhaps captain Dustin Brown, who has seven goals and 15 points in his own right? And how can we forget about Jonathan Quick, who has been outstanding with a 1.46 goals against average in the playoffs.

This is such a balanced team, it could be anyone of a handful of players to shine.

The Kings would have liked to complete the sweep in front of their home fans, but it will be just as sweet tonight on the road.

🚨 SPORTS NEWS ➡️ YOUR INBOX

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.