At this point, there aren’t a whole lot of people with their money on the Phoenix Coyotes in the Western Conference Final. The fancy stat crowd in particular has been lauding the Kings for weeks now (on this site as well), and with just cause – they’re a good team who’s underachieved all year.

But the thorn in the side of those “hockey geeks” is the fact that hockey is a stupid game, and the sport is about as predictable as salamander racing, which if not already a thing, should be. With hockey, underdogs can play the game in a way that maximizes their chances of scoring “lucky” goals, which is exactly what the Coyotes do.

The Kings have one of the best goaltenders in the NHL. They’re the stingiest team in NHL playoffs defensively, giving up 1.56 goals-against per game. You’re not going tic-tac-toe on their team D, and more importantly, you’re not beating Jonathan Quick clean with a shot. It’s one of the reasons the Canucks couldn’t get past the Kings – as Brooks Laich recently explained hockey ”You can defend against skill.”

But of course, you can’t plan for bounces.

To beat great goaltending, you have to acknowledge the value of the luck factor, and “buy as many lottery tickets as possible,” which is just a way of saying “Screen shots, redirect pucks, smack at every rebound, and who knows what’ll happen.” The exact way the Coyotes score the majority of their goals - gritty, intentionally lucky goals – is the best way to beat great goaltending, which as I’ve said, is a huge strength of the Kings. And with Phoenix also playing great team defense, they create good odds of winning by essentially making games against better teams a coin toss.

Talented teams can dish it about and rely on goals off rushes. Underdogs like the Coyotes succeed when they create chaos.

I understand that if you were to throw all the names from these two teams into a draft and re-picked teams for a game tonight, there’s about seven Kings who would go in the top 10. They obviously have more talent on their roster. But the roster they’ll be going up against in the next round is an egoless group with an identity, and they’ll stick to their lotto-gameplan.

Because they prey on that luck factor (again, tipped pucks, shots through traffic, etc), it doesn’t matter how good the team they play is. It’s nothing but leaving the game in the hands of the hockey gods, and they’re fine with that.

Everybody and their mother thinks LA is going to beat the Coyotes. If the Coyotes stick to their committment to play “Who knows?” offense, I have no touble picturing them squeaking past another team that’s better on paper.

Comments (7)

  1. Thanks Bourne for at least not picking the Kings to win. The best teams doesn’t win, the better team does.

  2. Coyotes have never looked even good enough to get into the playoffs “on paper”. Kings and Coyotes series will be intensely physical and might come down to a battle of attrition.

  3. Any picks against the Kings is good by me. I’m having real issues dealing with the whole concept of them being favoured in a series for the first time since, what, 1991?

    (Don’t tell me they were favoured against the Habs in 1993. It just makes that debacle hurt more.)

  4. kings have more depth. and phoenix’s “luck” will be matched and trumped by depth, skill, intensity, and hard work. this is going to be a great series! no doubt as both teams have a chance. the kings just have a better chance, and will probably win. EVERYONE on the team is ON and contributing offensively. both teams score timely dirty goals, know eachother well, great goaltending, great roleplayers. LA just has more depth and skill and it will ultimately win them the series. Brown in his prime and Richards on the same team!?? throw in Carter and a Penner that can actually score?!?!? sorry to name drop but COME ON PEOPLE!!? Kopitar! Do i need to list the defensive corps?? and the experience on this team?? let’s start with Rob Scuderi and Willie Mitchell throw in a little Drew Doughty and Matt Greene. Justin Williams?? another 30 goal scorer who has won the cup!? COME ON PEOPLE WAKE UP!! LOL!!
    4 games, 5 games, 6 or 7. It doesn’t matter. The entire Kings organization is HUNGRY and driven and has a goalie that is just as great if not BETTER than smith. This is a team that upset the Presidents trophy winners who had more to prove and wanted it more than probably any team in the league. Then took out the best defensive team in the league in 4. The Kings aren’t going to show Phoenix any respect. This is war and my money is on LA. Sorry yotes fans. This is just the tip of the turtlehead LA is about to lay on your team.

  5. The thing is, every team that has played the Kings has known they need to get traffic in front of Quick and work on some dirty goals. And yet, hardly anybody has been successful doing that. The Kings D has been amazing at keeping the play wide and mostly keeping the slot clear.

    And another thing, the type of play you’re describing at the Coyotes best way to win the series, is very much the way the Kings have scraped by most of the season. They have gotten numerous (well, maybe not numerous by other teams standards) goals this season by driving the net and getting traffic in front of the cage.

    Whatever method of play the Coyotes have as their best chance of winning, I think the Kings are doing it better. With that said, this team is extremely well coached and probably a little less susceptible to mistakes, so I think they will ultimately need some lucky bounces at key moments to take this series, which is certainly possible.

  6. This guy is on drugs. Kings are gonna rape Yotes 4 straight. Kings will batter them down and score all kinds of goals. It’s gonna be a mismatch for sure.

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