Pretty nervous about the series. Both teams should be rusty to start off. Coyotes will get that initial push from the crowd though, so Kings gotta weather the storm. Kings have to continue to play like they have, like they know they can. Efforts from everyone and good, hard, disciplined hockey.
Posted this in the series preview thread, but for those who want to review how the Kings performed against Phoenix in their six meetings this season, here you go:
Some highlights of LA's previous six meetings against Phoenix.
Kings 2, Coyotes 0
*Brown is right on top of the crease and sneaks the puck past Smith's five-hole.
*Stoll almost scores on Smith, once again a shot aimed for the five-hole.
*Clifford wripped a clean wrist shot past Smith on a 3-on-2 rush, setup by Westgarth of all people.
Kings 2, Coyotes 3 (OT)
*Smith seems to rely on his size, as he's dropped down in a crouch position while Brown has the puck behind the net, which enables Richards to one-time a shot over Smith's shoulder from the bottom left circle.
*Vrbata is patient with the puck as he draws Quick out and puts the puck into an empty net. His goal was a result of a Jack Johnson turnover.
*Bad defensive zone coverage from the trailing Kings forward (Williams) results in a 3-on-2 rush and a goal for the Coyotes, once again scored by Vrbata.
*Low shot on Smith pops a rebound to Kopitar who puts the puck away into a gaping open net.
*The game winning goal in OT goes off of Johnson's stick and gets past Quick from a bad angle. Chalk this one up as a fluky and preventable goal.
Kings 4, Coyotes 3
*LaBarbera was in net for this one.
*Good thing Torres is suspended as he had two goals in this one, and he made both goals look easy.
Kings 1, Coyotes 0 (OT)
*Noticed that Smith drops early on two quality chances from the Kings on shots from Williams and Richardson. He's a big goalie who takes advantage of his 6'4 frame, whereas Quick relies on his flexibility and quickness, Smith just tries to cover as much of the net as possible with his positioning. He's not a very mobile goaltender when he drops low.
*You'll notice some of those soft spots in Smith on Doughty's OT goal. As Doughty cuts to the net, notice how Smith is already in a paddle down position, thinking he has to force Doughty to go high as he's coming on on his backhand. Doughty and the puck move laterally while Smith still holds his position, and he gets beat as a result. As I mentioned earlier, Smith not too mobile once he drops low.
Kings 0, Coyotes 1
*A shining example of Smith using his size to his advantage can be seen on how he plays that 2-on-1, he reads the pass all the way and just stands his position and Richardson puts the puck right into his emblem.
*Another quality opportunity for Richardson, this time he tries to go five-hole, but Smith shuts him down and the rebound shoots out with no Kings present to pick up the loose puck.
*Lewis uses his speed to create a good scoring chance but he's in too close to a sprawling Smith who gets his leg on the puck. Lewis gets a second opportunity that Smith thwarts with a kick save. Holding onto the puck and dragging it wide would have likely resulted in a goal.
*Kings players take note, don't leave Vrbata alone uncontested in the slot.
*The puck was not bouncing in LA's favor that night as both Brown and Richards seem to flub the puck on two great opportunities to tie the game. This was a loss that could have resulted in a win for the Kings had it not been for some fortunate bounces and the strong goaltending of Mike Smith. The opportunities were there for the Kings to tie and to win this game.
Kings 4, Coyotes 5 (SO)
*This was the second to last game Jack Johnson would play for the Kings and was the final meeting during the regular season for both clubs.
*Smith drops to a butterfly and Doughty launches a rocket over his shoulder from the slot.
*The second Kings goal from Loktionov beats Smith low, as he's dropped to a paddle down position. Similar to what we saw from Smith in a previous game, he is in the paddle down position when the puck is coming around from behind his net and wasn't expecting that shot from Loktionov.
*Getting Smith moving around his crease works in LA's favor as it results in LA's third goal of the game with a shot from Mitchell getting deflected past a discombobulated Smith.
*LA's PK was terrible in this game. On the first PP goal, Hanzal's pass attempt deflects off a King and beats Quick. On the 2nd PP goal, Doan is left all alone in front of Quick.
*Another goal on Smith that originates from behind the net, this time with Williams beating Smith five-hole from a play setup by Kopitar.
*Bad giveaway by Clifford and a bad coverage by the Kings leaves Doan all alone for his 2nd goal of the game.
*Quick lets in a bad goal as Vrbata emerges with the puck from behind the net. Quick tried to go for a big poke check and missed and lost control of his stick, leaving Vrbata with a lot of holes to pick at. This was also Phoenix's 3rd PP goal of the game.
*Good thing there are no shootouts in the playoffs.