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And then there were three: Coyotes’ run falls short

May 23, 2012, 1:06 AM EDT

Shane Doan Getty Images

No doubt about it, the Phoenix Coyotes are probably as bitter – and angry – as any team that got booted out of the playoffs in recent memory. They might even feel a bit like the 2011 San Jose Sharks (the last team to get knocked out of the Western Conference finals in stunning fashion). Chances are, the Coyotes will be unhappy about the Dustin Brown knee-to-knee for a long time; they’ll probably get over the Dustin Penner 4-3 overtime winner much quicker.

Either way, the Kings knocked them out of the WCF with a 4-1 series score.

Once the anger of the loss evaporates and the awkwardness of the handshake line dissipates, the Coyotes might realize that they can still hold their heads high. Let’s rattle off this season’s accomplishments:

  • They won their first Pacific Division title.
  • Phoenix advanced beyond the first round for the first time since the team moved from Winnipeg.
  • It’s also the first conference finals in franchise history.
  • The team did all of this amid serious financial troubles.

Yup, it’s a tough defeat for the Coyotes but it doesn’t change the fact that this is their best season ever.

What happened?

The Coyotes simply ran into the buzz saw known as the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings broke the NHL record for road prowess, deleting home-ice advantage for Phoenix (and the West’s two other highest seeds) in the process. The Kings boast a comparable defensive system, an arguably better goalie and an absolutely superior offensive attack. Overall, they were just too much for the Coyotes to handle.

Who takes the blame?

If you need to blame anyone, perhaps top scorers like Radim Vrbata and Ray Whitney. Whitney failed on a few golden opportunities while Vrbata generated just one assist in the series. For most of the season, that combination was one of the most underrated scoring lines in the NHL; perhaps the Kings showed why they flew under the radar.

What will they do about it?

Obviously, the Coyotes’ bigger picture future needs to be resolved. If you’ve followed that story, you know that it might not necessarily happen during this off-season, though.

That’s a huge factor, but with all the uncertainty, let’s move on to questions that will be easier to answer. While the Coyotes’ goalie duo of Mike Smith and Jason LaBarbera have contracts through 2012-13, the rest of the team is a little less certain. Most specifically, they have a bunch of veteran contracts to settle.

It starts with Shane Doan, who’s an unrestricted free agent this summer. Ray Whitney and Daymond Langkow are other aging free agent forwards while Michal Rozsival, Adrian Aucoin and Kurt Sauer rank as older unrestricted defensemen.

The bright side is that they aren’t likely to deal with a lot of players getting raises this summer. The bad news is that they’re unlikely to have much budgetary space to work with.

More

And then there were 15: Is Detroit’s dynasty on its last legs?

And then there were 14: Sharks come out flat in playoffs

And then there were 13: Powerhouse Pens fall flat

And then there were 12: Presidents’ Trophy-winning Canucks bounced in Round 1

And then there were 11: Another first-round exit for Blackhawks

And then there were 10: Bruins run out of Game 7 magic

And then there were nine: Senators out, but future’s bright

And then there were eight: Panthers go out swinging

And then there were seven: Blues swept out of Western Conference semifinal

And then there were six: So much for Nashville’s mid-season reload

And then there were five: New-look Flyers produce familiar results

And then there were four: Capitals fall just short in Game 7

  1. qauzaq - May 23, 2012 at 1:14 AM

    It was not knee on knee so enough with this complaining BS. Like JR said, it’s being blown out of proportion because the kings scored so soon after.

    • cardsandbluesforever - May 23, 2012 at 2:39 AM

      it wasnt knee on knee- it was knee on ball sack.

      • comeonnowguys - May 23, 2012 at 10:37 AM

        Even better for Brown. If Burrows can’t get suspended for that, I don’t see how Brown can.

  2. blueblood86 - May 23, 2012 at 1:18 AM

    What a bunch of BS
    PHX should of had at least 3 power plays that they got screwed from.
    Good job NHL screwing your own franchise and putting LA in the finals.

    • timmyp716 - May 23, 2012 at 2:10 AM

      No instead they got about 3 power plays they DIDN’T deserve..

    • comeonnowguys - May 23, 2012 at 9:46 AM

      If you had been watching Phoenix’s first round, you had to know the other shoe of bad officiating would drop.

  3. sjsharksfan11 - May 23, 2012 at 1:21 AM

    Law of averages will catch up to LA. The dirt bag actions of Brown and Richards will be sweet when they get a taste of their own medicine.

    • dsd3 - May 23, 2012 at 1:50 AM

      Maybe so, but the same “law of averages” will probably claim Mike Smith’s status as an elite goalie too.

  4. Ryan - May 23, 2012 at 1:31 AM

    Congrats on a good season and run Yotes. You helped showed that the Pacific Division is a force to be reckoned with. Just make sure you sign Smith on for a long, long time (who I think outplayed Quick this series).

  5. 1trojanlove - May 23, 2012 at 1:39 AM

    Sjsharksfan, how bitter can one guy be? Dang… Get over it! The LA Kings have been the best team in each round.

  6. dsd3 - May 23, 2012 at 1:49 AM

    Arguably better goalie? Smith isn’t even on the same planet as Quick. Quick should win the Vezina, and easily could win the Smythe. There’s no competition there, sorry.

  7. bruins2011 - May 23, 2012 at 2:04 AM

    ton of bitter yotes fans, but LA was the better team and it showed. I think Phx so
    showed great heart but their fans need the lose to gain some sportsmanship

  8. polegojim - May 23, 2012 at 8:28 AM

    Congrats to the Kings for taking care of business. Coyotes outplayed them for the entire first two periods, but Kings grit won out.

    Coyotes exposed their ‘inexperience with success’. When you don’t start playing good hockey until game 4, you’re going home. Instead of enjoying a ‘series’, they enjoyed a ‘win’.

    LOT’S of no-calls both ways in this game. Brown suffered at least 3 blatant no-calls.

  9. cweez2 - May 23, 2012 at 9:44 AM

    I’m just disappointed we won’t see the busty redhead behind the Phoenix bench anymore.

    • cweez2 - May 23, 2012 at 11:54 AM

      well, we know Gloria Allred watches hockey

    • supereri - May 23, 2012 at 1:27 PM

      I’m so glad to see I’m not the only one to notice her.

      I couldn’t wait for the camera to lock onto Tippet

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