Western Conference finals set: (3) Phoenix Coyotes vs. (8) Los Angeles Kings
The Pacific Division didn’t do much for the hockey world during the regular season, but the supposedly lowly group will represent the West in the Stanley Cup finals this year. Now it’s down to which team will go as the third-seeded Phoenix Coyotes will face the West’s No. 8 team the Los Angeles Kings.
This represents the Coyotes’ first-ever trip to the conference finals on the heels of their first Pacific Division title and first series win since they won one as the Winnipeg Jets in 1987. (Sorry, but that always needs to be in bold.)
Meanwhile, the Kings are on their greatest run since the days of Wayne Gretzky, John Candy in the stands and the last gasps of the pre-Dead Puck Era.* Los Angeles was a regular season letdown if you consider many pundits’ picks, yet they’re looking like the contending team many expected - and more - after beating the top two teams in the West while losing just one playoff game.
The Coyotes and Kings took three games apiece in their six regular season contests. Both are red-hot. On paper, Los Angeles is sexier yet Phoenix has the possibly-important home ice edge. So who do you think is going to take it?
* - The Kings made it to the Stanley Cup finals in 1993. By ’95, the New Jersey Devils shocked the Detroit Red Wings and were subsequently blamed for the trap and whatever was wrong with the economy.