The difference in the NHL playoffs often comes down to the goaltender – and this year’s final four are on top of their game racking up the first eight of the 16 wins needed to add their name to the greats on the Stanly Cup. In the conference final each team will face a familiar foe as the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils see a lot of each other in the Atlantic Division. In the west, Pacific Division rivals Phoenix Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings will butt heads for a berth in the Stanley Cup Final.
Western Conference Finals
The LA Kings fought up to the last week just to make the playoffs and once they clinched they lost two games to San Jose to fall to the eighth seed in the west and were matched up against the NHL’s top team the Vancouver Canucks. The Kings did not cower and took the first two games in Vancouver and then sent fans into a fury by sending a “You’re welcome” tweet the rest of Canada. The Canucks, though, had no response losing the series in five.
In round two, the NHL reseeds the bracket so the Kings got matched up with the No. 2 seed St. Louis blues who they promptly swept in four. The wins improved their road record to an impressive 5-0 with a home record of 3-1. The Kings also entered the third round having played the least amount of games.
Phoenix, which averages high temperatures of 85, 95, and 104 during the NHL playoff months of April, May, and June, doesn’t get any respect from most other hockey cities but the Coyotes finished atop the Pacific Division earning them the third seed and home ice for the first time in franchise history.
They took advantage of the home ice knocking off the 2010 Champion Chicago Blackhawks in a series that went to overtime in the first five out of six games. They then took on Nashville where goaltender Mike Smith bested Vezina (best goaltender) finalist Pekka Rinne. Smith will have to do the same against another Vezina finalist in Jonathan Quick if he wants to see the Stanley Cup finals come to Phoenix.
For those people of Phoenix that don’t know hockey but are jumping on the bandwagon for the Kings series and beyond they can learn from Coyotes fourth liner and NHL’s top Tweeter Paul Bissonnette and his Hockey 101 lesson.
Eastern Conference Finals
The New Jersey Devils have 56 less years of history than their Original Six rival New York Rangers, but since setting up shop 13 miles from the Rangers, the Devils have already won the Cup three times and are one away from tying the Rangers with Four.
New Jersey finished fourth in the Atlantic – the toughest division in the NHL this year – and started the playoff run in Florida where they were pushed to a seventh game by the Panthers. In round two they were back in old form against the Philadelphia Flyers and the 40-year-old Martin Brodeur handed the Flyers their first four game losing streak of the season eliminating them in 5 allowing the Devils some rest.
The Rangers come into the series having had played the most games of any team left as they were pushed to seven games by Ottawa in the first round and Washington in the second. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has come up big in both of the game sevens making sure his team would advance and he will have to be sharp again as the goals will be hard to come by against New Jersey.
Reporters have to be just as frustrated as goal scorers as a coach John Tortorella answer is probably harder to come by then a goal. Tortorella’s press conferences have been so bad that they have now gotten a DJ Steve Porter remix which is so much better.
For more Pictures form the NHL playoffs check out Newscom.
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This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 15th, 2012 at 6:14 pm and is filed under Sports. You can follow any comments to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a comment, or trackback from your own site.