This just in. The Los Angeles Kings are a really good hockey team. I know that sounds shocking to no one watching the playoffs right now. No team has been better in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs than Darryl Sutter’s group. The Kings improved their record in the playoffs to 11 wins to only 1 defeat after a 2-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes, to take a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference Final.
After a scoreless first period, the Coyotes did something unheard of in this series, they took the lead. Daymond Langkow broke in along and slid one past Jonathan Quick to give the Coyotes first blood just over a minute into the second period. The Coyotes thought they had momentum. It just made the Kings mad. Just over two minutes later, Anze Koptiar beat Mike Smith on a lovely breakaway goal to level the score. Kopitar has been terrific in the series, and is on the verge of becoming a full-fledged superstar in the NHL.
The third period saw Dwight King, providing the role of hero. Just 1:47 into the period, King and Jarret Stoll forced a turnover through a relentless forecheck. Stoll took the puck from a Coyotes defender, and fed King in the slot, who fired home his fifth of the playoffs. King has matched his regular season total for goals in these playoffs, and is quickly becoming a story onto himself. The rest of the period saw the Kings swarm the Coyotes all over the ice. Stoll in particular was outstanding, playing his best hockey since 2006 when he was a member of the Edmonton Oilers, who went to the finals that season.
The Coyotes are in huge trouble now. Only three teams, the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, 1975 New York Islanders, and the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers have come back from an 0-3 deficit to win the series. The Coyotes have been undisciplined and foolish. If it wasn’t for Mike Smith, every game would have been a blowout in this series. Meanwhile the Kings are flying high. They look like a team on a mission. The only thing that can derail the Kings is overconfidence, but Sutter won’t let that happen to them. Game 4 is set for Sunday afternoon at the Staples Centre.
1. Jarret Stoll
2. Dwight King
3. Anze Kopitar