It’s another week of playoff hockey, and like clockwork (well, slightly delayed clockwork this time), Jay and Stephen are back to talk shop, including the super hot Kings, who are now one win from the Stanley Cup finals, and the neck and neck battle between New Jersey and New York.
Jay: Well, here we are in the third round of the playoffs. Rangers-Devils and Kings-Coyotes. Of the four teams, the only one I thought had a shot at getting this far was the Rangers. But now, I guess the big question is: Can anyone beat the Kings?
Stephen: Phoenix is going to try to prove us wrong here in the next two periods, but so far only St. Louis has managed to top them in playoffs. Once. They’re 10-1 this post-season, which is just insane.
Jay: And just like that, the Coyotes score!
Stephen: Well, good on Phoenix, though there’s still lots of hockey to play. Kings have just been scary good still, solid on all sides of the puck, and looking nothing like a #8 seed from a weak division who barely squeaked into the postseason.
Jay: That’s only the second goal the Kings have given up in this series and we’re in the 2nd period of game 3. Jonathan Quick has been excellent for LA, but the team as a whole has just played so well. I’ve been really impressed with their forecheck, and Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar have been their best players. And in game 2, Jeff Carter broke out with a hat trick. I just can’t see any of the other three teams beating them right now.
And the Kings just tied it up with a sweet breakaway goal from Kopitar!
Stephen: Crazy. And you can already see the frustration from Phoenix though it is early. That Hanzal boarding call was a clear sign of that. But for now, the Coyotes need to take it one shift at a time. (in game 2, I mean. Hanzal is suspended for this game)
Jay: You can tell Phoenix is desperate….they started Paul “BizNasty 2.0″ Bissonette for this game. I was amazed at the punishment Dustin Brown took in the last game…especially that vicious whack from Mike Smith’s stick. But I can’t see this series going beyond five games. Meanwhile, the Rangers and Devils are tied at 1. Game 2 was really exciting. This looks like a seven-game series to me. What do you think?
Stephen: I agree. Both teams are pretty evenly matched. I’ve somehow managed to miss all the scoring in the series, but the periods I have watched featured a lot of good chances in both directions, and Brodeur and Lundqvist are showing why they’re legends in the game. Any given game’s almost a coin-flip, really, as the teams are so evenly matched. My dislike for Tortorella biases me towards picking the Devils, but really the Rangers are just as likely to win this Bridge and Tunnel series.
Jay: I’ve been impressed with the offensive flair of the Devils, which is weird to type about the team that introduced the neutral zone trap to the NHL in the mid-90s. But it’s a reversal of old roles as the Rangers trap and block shots endlessly and the Devils create offense and use their speed. Game 2 was a lot of fun, and the momentum swings were epic. The Devils dominated for a long stretch, then the Rangers roared back, and then in the third the Devils turned it back on. Both goalies made terrific saves. But the Devils weakness is their penalty kill. The Rangers power play made NJ pay last night. The Devils will have to be more disciplined the rest of the way.
Stephen: I agree. The Devils PK has been woeful, and they survived Philly by staying out of the box. They get too chippy this round and things could snowball. But I think the Devils are the more exciting team, and I would love to see a Kings vs. Devils final. The old goalie guard vs. the new.
Jay: Yeah, me too. I’m sure Commissioner Bettman is hoping for Rangers-Kings just to have those two huge markets in the final. It’s been interesting to watch the Staples Center juggle having all three of its tenant teams in the playoffs: Kings, Lakers and Clippers. Things could get crazy on Sunday, when the Kings host Phoenix for game 4 at noon Pacific time, followed by the Clippers-Spurs game at 7:30. If the hockey game goes into multiple OTs, the NBA game will obviously be delayed. And to top it off, there’s a huge cycling race that ends at the Staples Center about two hours before the Kings game. Nuts.
Stephen: And with the Dodgers kicking butt in baseball it’s a great year to be an LA fan, it seems! So depending on games, we may be ready for the Cup next week. Predictions between then and now?
Jay: Like I said, I think the Kings take the West in 5 and Rangers-Devils go 7 before New Jersey takes it. I think Phoenix is going to try and goon it up in the next few games, but it’s become apparent they don’t have the weapons to keep up with the Kings. Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise have impressed me for NJ. They’ll lead the way.
Stephen: Sound predictions all around. I think whoever dominates tomorrow in the NJ-NY game takes the series. But agree the Kings have all but locked up the West. They just look too good. But either way, we’ll be back here next week, either pumping the final match-up or breaking down some game 6s.
Jay: Indeed. I really like this Kings team, so I’m rooting for them.
Stephen: Same here! You’ve heard it here first: the LA Kings are Popblerd endorsed!