Yotes/Crowns Excitement. AmIRight?Posted: 09/05/2012
Ask me if i’m pumped for this Western finals matchup. Go ahead. I am. I’m uber pumped.
Over the past 4 years, i’ve grown pretty sick of hearing about what a great team the Red Wings/Canucks/Blackhawks have.* The wings have struggled with the youth/veteran balance dating back to their back to back finals appearances against the pens. The Hawks bought a cup – Byufuglien and Hossa anyone – and built an offense based on the quick capitalization, for which they no longer have the key players. Or a goaltender. And the Canucks. Sweet filth. They choke every year in the playoffs. Count on it. Even their “Cup Run” was mired with disproportionate goal differentials.
Look at games 3 and 4. Minus 11. You can say differentials don’t matter, but when you proclaim your goaltender to be the savior of the hockey universe, you’d think he’d give you a chance. he didn’t.
That brings me to this years Western Conference finals. Coyotes Kings. Here’s the successes/resumes of the these “scrubs…”
Resume – #3 seed. Beat Blackhawks and Predators. Successes came from Mike Smith has been unreal. The team has been playing solid defensively, at least for a team. I’d watched one of the overtime thrillers against Chicago – it was one of the better playoff games i’ve seen this year. They forced teams into not great shots. Radim freaking Vrabata.
Expectations – i’d love to see these dudes push through to the finals. They’re embraced the team mentality and are winning because of that. Also, Mike Smith needs to be their best player night in and night out if they plan on staying with the Kings.
Resume: the kings entered the post season as the #8 seed with a first round against the Canucks. All jokes aside, the Canucks had something to prove again this year in the wake of last year’s Finals disappointment. The Kings, however, had other ideas: namely taking the Canucks in 5. Second round against the Blues, what should have been a much more interesting matchup against Ken Hitchcock’s Team with a capital T, was even easier. The Kings swept the Blues in 4 thanks again to stellar goaltending from Jonathan Quick.
Quick stat line on Jonathan Quick: in 9 post season games this year, Quick has given up a total of 14 goal, boasts a sub-zero GAA of 1.55, and a smooth save percentage of .949. He’s unreal.
Expectations: the Kings have it all working right now. They’ve given up a total of 14 goals in 9 games this post season, and produced 15 goals in their last 4 games. Quick continues to be stellar, and they need him to be. Its infinitely frustrating facing a goaltender as hot as Quick. Let me brag on him some more: he’s put up 5 games this post season with save percentages above 95%. If the Kings keep clicking, the Crowns could find themselves with a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.
The easy thing to say is that Phoenix hasn’t faced a good goaltender and thus will not be able to put anything past Quick. But remember this dude named Rinne who has been a leading contender for Vezina talk all season? Yeah, they nearly swept his club. That said, i think both of these teams are pretty committed to the team-first mentality, making it difficult. Vrabata and Kopitar are currently heading up their teams if not in points, then in spirit. Kopitar is second in points and leading in assists for the Kings. Vrabata isn’t bolstering the most points for the Yotes this post season, but is second in Shots on Goal and still cannot be left unattended.
Simply put, i think that the Kings just have too much going on right now. Even though the Yotes came off a big series win against Nashville, i think that there is simply too much going right for the Kings (namely Jonathan Quick) and that the Kings are coming off an even bigger sweep of the Blues. I say Kings in 6.
*5 cool points to you if you caught that reference.