KK Members Blog
by FanspeakNHL on 05/23/12 at 06:02 PM ET
On the one hand, the Phoenix Coyotes should be thrilled that they made it to the Western Conference finals for the first time in franchise history. On the other, they should be disappointed that they were dismissed in five games by a team that finished two points behind them in the Pacific Division during the regular season.
But the biggest regret for the Coyotes should be the fact that everything that worked during series victories against the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators failed against the L.A. Kings. (More on the royal juggernaut during previews for the Stanley Cup finals.) In 11 games against the Hawks and Preds, the Coyotes allowed 21 goals (1.9 goals per game); in five games against the Kings, they allowed 14 (2.8 goals per game). Consider the flip side to that equation: they only scored eight goals in five games against the Kings (1.6 goals per game) compared to 29 goals in the first 11 games of the playoffs (2.63 goals per game). So they scored 1.3 fewer goals per game and allowed 0.7 more goals per game. Not a recipe for success.
This is a team that’s depended on its defense all season and just couldn’t slow down the Kings the way they had quelled the attacks of their previous opponents. That being said, they still allowed an average of 2.19 goals per game for their entire 16-game playoff season, which is still good for sixth in the league. Goalie Mike Smith had his best season as a pro, while Antoine Vermette, captain Shane Doan, Keith Yandle, Ray Whitney, Daymond Langkow, and Derek Morris all made solid contributions.
The biggest looming off-season question for the Coyotes is with the 35-year-old Doan, an unrestricted free agent. Here’s betting he stays. Langkow and Whitney also are UFAs. But with Smith signed for another season, Yandle signed through 2015-16 and Morris through 2013-14, there are many good things going on in the Valley of the Sun.
But the best news for the franchise is that they’re going to be staying put — thus ensuring that all the momentum they built this season can continue well into the future.
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