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Kings send almost-instant message to Phoenix

Justin Williams' crashing the net early in their Game 1 victory provokes quick response from Coyotes goalie Mike Smith. The Kings are aware one key in the series is to get Smith 'off his game.'

May 14, 2012|By Chris Foster

GLENDALE, Ariz. --  The Kings went with new media after their Game 1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks in the first round of the playoffs, posting, "To everyone in Canada outside BC. You're welcome," on Twitter.

They appeared to go old school in delivering a message to the Phoenix Coyotes on Sunday.

Justin Williams employed traditional hockey social graces by barreling into Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith a little more than four minutes into the series. It provoked a similar response from Smith, who jumped Williams after the whistle and received a roughing penalty.

"Obviously it got the better of me," Smith said. "It won't happen again."

Williams was crashing the net, with a Phoenix player on his hip, during the first period of the Kings' 4-2 victory Sunday. He dislodged Smith and the net at the same time.

"Uh, was I surprised at his reaction? I think so, because I really didn't do anything," Williams said. "I kind of got pushed in a little. I don't know if he was sending a message or whatnot."

Smith thought he was on the receiving end of the message. He was skeptical of the "I got pushed" defense.

"I felt like he made more of an effort not to get out of the way than he did to get in the way," Smith said. "It's playoff hockey. I should expect that. They are going do everything they can to get in my way and make it hard on me to see pucks."

Smith allowed three goals Sunday. He had allowed three goals in the three previous playoff games combined.

"That's certainly something we need to keep doing, if we can get him off his game," Williams said.

Williams might want to check that wish. Smith and the Kings' Anze Kopitar mixed it up during a Feb. 16 game. It didn't knock Smith off his game. He stopped 28 shots in a 1-0 victory.

Cup quandary

The Phoenix Coyotes are owner-less for the moment, with the NHL in control of the franchise.

It raises the question, who gets the Stanley Cup if the Coyotes win eight more games? Commissioner Gary Bettman will hand it to the Coyotes' team captain, but there is no owner to receive it after that.

"Gary would get it, wouldn't he?" Phoenix backup goalie Jason LaBarbera said. "If we win the Cup, does he hold it up himself first? I'm sure he wouldn't mind it. That would be an interesting dynamic."

Time frame

The Kings and Coyotes are benefiting from a series that involves only one-hour flights.

"It's a nice change to stay close to home," Kings' forward Dustin Penner said. "You don't have to take Ambien to get down. You can enjoy a natural sleep."

Penner knows how grueling a playoff run can be. He was on the Ducks team that had to deal with long flights and a three-hour time difference playing the Detroit Red Wings in the 2007 conference final.

"I don't think the East teams know how lucky they are sometimes, staying in their own time zone," Penner said. "One-hour flights are usually the max. They can even go by train."

chris.foster@latimes.com

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