The Western Conference final match-up is set. The #3 Phoenix Coyotes will faceoff against the #8 Los Angeles Kings. The Coyotes knocked off the #4 Nashville Predators in 5 games and the Kings swept the #2 St. Louis Blues.

It was surprising that both series finished so quickly. While the Predators were able to win one game in their series, it was clear that Phoenix outplayed them and was the consistently the better team throughout the series. Nashville Predators right wing Alexander Radulov had 5 points in the first round series against Detroit but only one assist against the Coyotes. Radulov and Predators left wing Andrei Kostitsyn missed two games in the Phoenix series after they were suspended for a violation of team rules.  The Blues never had any momentum in the series and Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick shut down the St. Louis offense. Blues left wing Andy McDonald had 8 points in the first round series against San Jose but had only one goal and one assist in four games against the Kings.

The Coyotes and Kings faced each other six times in the regular season and each won three games. Two of those games went to overtime and each team won one overtime game. Their last regular season meeting on Feb. 21, 2012 was a 5-4 shootout win for the Coyotes in Phoenix.

Goaltenders Jonathan Quick and Mike Smith will be the obvious key to this series. In 9 playoff game, Quick has a 1.55 goals against average and .949 save percentage. Smith has a 1.77 goals against average, .948 save percentage and two shutouts through 11 playoff games.

For the Kings, captain Dustin Brown has had a great playoffs so far with 11 points in 9 games. He’s third in playoff points behind Flyers forwards Claude Giroux and Danny Briere. L.A. center Anze Kopitar has 10 points. Both Kopitar and Brown will need to continue their point production if the Kings look to advance to the Stanley Cup final.

The Coyotes have had scoring depth so far this postseason. 14 of their players have at least three points; compare that to L.A. who has 8 players with three or more points.  Antoine Vermette leads Phoenix with 9 points in 11 games. Mikkel Boedker, Rostislav Klesla and Keith Yandle all are right behind him with 7 points.

My prediction: My predictions for the last round of the Western Conference were pretty far off so I keep second guessing my pick this time. The fan in me wants the Coyotes to win but the Kings are hot right now and it’s hard to pick against them. I’ll go with the Los Angeles Kings in 6 games.
 


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