Commentary

Kings find new ways to dominate

Updated: May 16, 2012, 8:27 AM ET
By Pierre LeBrun | ESPN.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Oh, they can beat you in so many ways.

The Los Angeles Kings gave another example Tuesday night why they're the NHL's most dominant playoff team of 2012, able to shut out the Phoenix Coyotes 4-0 without a big night from their top line.

A regular-season squad that couldn't buy a goal for most of the year is now an offensive juggernaut that comes at you with wave after wave and leaves the opposition gasping for air.

Want proof? Try a whopping 88-51 shot advantage for Los Angeles through two games in the Western Conference finals. The Kings are now averaging 3.18 goals per game in the playoffs, tops among the four clubs still alive in the postseason.

In Game 1, it was Anze Kopitar's unit with Dustin Brown and Justin Williams that did the 5-on-5 damage. Game 2 saw Jarret Stoll's third line with Dwight King and Trevor Lewis, and Mike Richards' second unit with Jeff Carter and Dustin Penner score the two opening goals at even strength to put the Kings in control. Carter capped his hat trick with a pair of power-play goals to make it academic.

So while the Coyotes this time were able to mute the Kopitar line, it was far from enough.

"The whole playoffs we've found different ways of winning," Stoll said. "It's great to see that, because everyone is contributing on a game-to-game basis. Everyone has been consistent in their play. We can roll four lines, we can really count on four lines, and that's pretty special."

With three reliable defense pairs that balance a puck-moving blueliner with a rugged shutdown type, the Kings have the makings of a championship team.

"You have to have depth during playoffs," Kopitar said. "We have four lines that can score any given night. Tonight again was a full team effort. And having Quickie back there is not such a bad idea either."

Did we forget the goalie? Yes, that dude Jonathan Quick was rock-solid again in recording his second shutout of the postseason, stopping 24 shots.

Add it all up and you get a sensational 10-1 record in the playoffs -- a franchise-record 7-0 on the road -- and Los Angeles is just two wins away from its first trip to the Cup finals since Wayne Gretzky's Kings lost to Montreal in 1993 -- the franchise's one and only trip to the big dance.

The Kings are completely in control of a Coyotes squad that seems to have hit a wall and is wholeheartedly overwhelmed in every facet by its Pacific Division rival.

It's no surprise that frustration bubbled to the surface for a Coyotes team that hadn't trailed before in a series this spring, let alone now by two games. Shane Doan and Martin Hanzal each got five-minute boarding majors and were tossed out of the game. Doan nailed Lewis from behind in the second period, Hanzal pushed Brown into the boards midway through the third period. You could argue on Doan's behalf that Lewis turned his back at the last moment, but there's no excuse for Hanzal's hit on Brown. It was dangerous, and you can bet Brendan Shanahan will mull that one over.

This is about a team losing its composure, perhaps from the realization that this series is getting away from them.

The Coyotes have that "Uh-oh" look after dropping the first two games at home, just like the Canucks and Blues before them.

"We haven't played near the way we're capable of playing," Coyotes goalie Mike Smith said. "It's the first one to four [wins], not the first to two. There's no need to hit the panic button, but we do need to play much better.

"We have a lot more to give in here. When you get beat and you play well, you can tip your hat to the other team. When you get beat the way we are getting beat right now, that's a lot more frustrating."

You never want to count out such a resilient, blue-collar squad like this year's Coyotes, but this series belongs to Los Angeles, short of a monumental collapse.