Los Angeles @ Phoenix Game 1 Hockey Pick
The Western Conference Finals gets underway with Game 1 on Sunday afternoon in Glendale, and NHL betting fans are going to love to dive right into this duel in the desert between the Los Angeles Kings and the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Kings have clearly been the best team in the playoffs all postseason long, and that’s really saying something considering the fact that they were the last team to lock down a playoff bid this year. Los Angeles has lost just once, and that came in Game 4 against the Vancouver Canucks when that series was already essentially over with. What’s scary is that we don’t know if we have seen the best out of this team quite yet. Jonathan Quick, who routinely is amongst the league leaders in shutouts every year, has just one clean sheet in nine games this postseason, though he does have a remarkable .951 save percentage. The offense has been the real difference, though. Dustin Brown has six goals and five assists, and he and Anze Kopitar have really made a great bond together. The Kings went for broke this season by bringing in a whopping four members of the Philadelphia Flyers to join their first two lines, and it is paying off in a big time way. These are the only men in this series with recent experience at this level, as they all played in the Stanley Cup Finals two years ago.
The Coyotes are probably one of the more surprising teams to be playing in a conference finals in quite some time. This has been a franchise in flux a lot over the last few seasons, as Commissioner Gary Bettman has been talking for years to get rid of this team and move it somewhere else. Phoenix even had it rough at the end of last year when Ilya Bryzgalov was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers. Bryzgalov is now out of the playoffs, and the Coyotes are in the Western Conference Finals for the first time in their history. They are the decided underdogs in this series, but they do have home ice advantage, and they are going to look to ride the hot hand of Mike Smith all the way to the Stanley Cup this year. Smith has had some moments where he has looked like one of the best goalies in the game, and some in which he has looked quite suspect. In the third periods of the playoffs for example, Smith has allowed almost half of his goals. That being said, in overtimes, he has really generally played well, and that’s why Phoenix is still in the second season.
The Final Word: These teams are going to have both had some time off to prepare for this game, but we think that in the end, this first clash is going to go to the Coyotes. The hosts have played well here on their home ice in the playoffs, and we think that they are going to hand LA its first loss of the playoffs on the road.
Los Angeles Kings @ Phoenix Coyotes Pick: Phoenix Coyotes -102
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