Division will be on display this Sunday at the Jobing.com Arena when the Los
Angeles Kings and the Phoenix Coyotes clash in Game 1 of this best-of-seven
Western Conference Finals matchup in the NHL Playoffs.
The game is
set to get underway at 5 p.m. (PT) and it will be broadcast nationally on NBC.
The odds makers have set the Kings a -115 favorite with the Coyotes -105 and
the total at 4.5.
Kings make short work of the best in
It has been
easy as one, two, and possibly three for Los Angeles in the postseason after
taking-out the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks and the second-seeded St. Louis
Blues in just nine games to earn its first trip to the conference finals since
the Wayne Gretzky days of the early ‘90’s. The Kings come into this game in top
form after outscoring the high-powered Canucks 12-8 and the stingy Blues 15-5. Their
only loss was a 3-1 setback in Game 4 against Vancouver as 101 home underdogs.
Los Angeles has been an underdog in six of its nine playoff games.
Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar have provided the bulk of the production on
offense with a combined nine goals and 12 assists, but the Kings have shown
solid depth with six other players posting at least four points. Mike Richards
has really stepped-up his game with three goals and five assists. The real hero
of this historic run has been goalie Jonathan Quick. As one of the NHL’s best
goalies in the regular season, he has raised the bar in the playoffs with a
goals-against-average of 1.55 and a .949 save percentage.
Phoenix peaking at just the right
For most of
the regular season Phoenix was locked in a four-way dogfight in the Pacific
Division, but a five-game winning streak down the stretch secured the title and
the third-seed in the conference. The Coyotes were able to parlay this momentum
into a six-game victory over Chicago in the first round and a solid five-game
ousting of Nashville in the semifinals. Despite having the home-ice advantage,
they will be underdogs for the third-straight series at +150 with the Kings
favored at -170.
Coyotes are going to have any chance to grab the early edge in this series,
they will need a continued strong effort from Antoine Vermette, who leads the
team in scoring in the postseason with five goals and four assists. Phoenix has
also been able to spread things around with seven other players posting at
least two goals in the first two series, but Vermette remains the key.
Fortunately, the Coyotes have a shutdown goalie of their own in Mike Smith. His
overall numbers are comparable to Quick’s with a 1.77 GAA and a .948 save
are 6-2 in their last eight games as favorites and 7-2 in their last nine games
on the road. The total has stayed UNDER in five of their last seven games
are 13-3 in their last 16 games overall and 7-2 in their last nine games at
home. The total has stayed UNDER in seven of their last nine games.
they split this season’s six-game series 3-3 with each winning twice at home
and once on the road. Five of the six contests were decided by one goal with
three of the games going to overtime. The total went 2-3-1 in the six games.
the low total line of 4.5 the UNDER remains the top hockey pick in the opener with
Quick and Smith shining in goal as both teams try and shake of some rust from
the extended layoff. If choosing a side, stick with the Coyotes to grab the
early edge in another tight one.
Pick: Phoenix 2 - Los Angeles 1