Coyotes talk about conference finals

How are the Phoenix Coyotes preparing for the Western Conference Finals? By the sound of things, very much the same way the Kings are, by easing into practice and trying to build the momentum toward Sunday’s Game 1. The Kings wrapped up their second-round series last Sunday, and the Coyotes followed suit a day later, so both teams will be well-rested by the time the series starts. To get a first look at the Coyotes and what they’re thinking, check out the coverage from The Arizona Republic, plus some extensive coach and player quotes as provided by the Coyotes…

The Arizona Republic’s Coyotes coverage



(on managing all the time off…) “A couple days is good for us right now. Any time you can grab the rest I think it’s a good thing, but you’ve also got to balance it. We’ll have two good days of practice where we expect good, intense practices to get us ready. The thing about it is, is that both teams are in the same situation. They won their series the day before we did. So, both teams are in the same predicament that way.”

(on his team’s defensive depth…) “You have to have more than six guys ready. I thought (David) Schelmko came in and played a very good game for us the other night under a tough situation, where losing (Adrian) Aucoin halfway through that game, all of a sudden you’ve got a player who’s played in two games in the last three weeks and he’s getting extra minutes and I thought he handled himself very well. So, we’ll kind of evaluate where we are over the next few days and figure out which six we feel like gives us the best chance to be successful, and that’s who we’ll go with.”



(on how his team doesn’t lose momentum with the time off…) “It’s our job. We have to be ready to play when we do play, and you can’t just be playing off of emotion. We know that when we get out there the crowd is going to be behind us. There’s going to be enough emotion to get ready for the game. It doesn’t matter how much time you had in between. You’re going to be ready for a playoff game.”

(on the abilities of some of his fellow defensemen…) “I think all of our guys have offensive ability. Everybody is pretty good with the puck, plays the puck well, makes good passes. And that’s the key, especially in this game, is to try to make one pass and get out of the zone quick or as quick as you can. And I think we’ve got guys who are great defensively as well, too, but I think we’ve got a lot of good puck-moving guys.”

(on what it was like to play the Kings in the regular season…) “I thought our games we played with them in the regular season were playoff-type games. We played hard. There were a lot of fights, guys playing hard. So, I remember when we finished those games, you talk amongst the guys and you’re saying it’s a playoff-type game. So, it’s a good thing that we got matched up with them and are able to play them because it’s going to be a fun series.”



(on playing the Kings…) “They’re a deep team with a really good goaltender. They play their system to a tee. So, it’s going to be another tough test for our club.”

(on defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s play…) “It’s unbelievable. The kid never ceases to amaze you with what kind of moves he pulls off on the ice. He flies under the radar, but I think he’s getting a lot more acknowledgements now that we’re going deep in the playoffs and he’s logging the kind of minutes he has. So, he’s playing with top players and he’s done an unbelievable job for us. He’s been, obviously, a young kid that’s improved every game, I think. Just his composure out there shows a lot about what kind of kid he is.”

(on the evolution of the Coyotes’ defense in the postseason…) “I think we’ve gotten more confident playing with the puck. Early in the playoffs, we didn’t want it so much. We got it and got rid of it. I think as we got deeper in the playoffs our D got more comfortable playing with it, playing with the puck, being more poised with it and started to make a lot more plays with it. So, I think as we do that the players themselves gain confidence in what they’re doing, and not just that, but blocking shots and the desperation that it takes to win hockey games, especially close hockey games. The difference between winning and losing, when you’re blocking shots that are going in empty nets or defending rushes and stuff like that, they’ve done an unbelievable job.”



(on what he expects out of the Kings, in terms of physicality…) “They’re going to play hard. It’s a fun type of hockey to play. You enjoy it and I think our team enjoys that a lot. I think we’re comfortable playing that type of game, and obviously they’ve been very successful at doing it. And you look at what they’ve done to Vancouver and to St. Louis. They would’ve probably been a lot of people’s picks out of the West and L.A. did a good job of making it look almost easy at times.”

(on the Kings and Coyotes making the Western Conference Finals…) “You never know, but you always talk about how you get into the playoffs and almost anything can happen, and two weeks before the playoffs I’m sure that not too many people were picking this, but it doesn’t matter, we’re both here and we’re excited.”

(on Kings captain Dustin Brown…) “He’s probably been the best forward, the best player. You look at (Jonathan) Quick, and you look at Smitty [Mike Smith], the goaltenders, they always rule the playoffs. But outside (of that), as a player, he’s probably been the best player in the playoffs. It’s been fun to watch. It’s going to be really fun to compete against him, for sure. I mean, you look forward to that.”

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