Two years ago, the Phoenix Coyotes were a casualty of the Los Angeles Kings’ title-winning run, losing in five games in the Western Conference Finals.
On Arizona Sports 620’s Dan Bickley Show with Vince Marotta Wednesday, Coyotes’ head coach Dave Tippett said he sees L.A. as his team’s biggest rival, mostly due to that matchup in the 2012 playoffs.
“They’re a division rival, and I think really the rivalries, you get them through playoff series and we had a playoff series that ended not great for us,” Tippett said. “They beat us obviously and [there was] lots of shenanigans going on at the end of the games, so you stand to build a little animosity, and those things tend to carry over year to year.”
The teams have played twice already this season, with the Kings taking the first one 7-4 in Los Angeles. With the chance to exact revenge on their home ice, the Coyotes took advantage and responded with a thorough 3-1 victory.
“We needed a game like that, we needed to get into the grit part of the game,” Tippett said. “They’re going to kind of push you around a little bit, and we had guys come up and play pretty strong.”
In particular, goalie Mike Smith’s play was impressive, and Tippett liked seeing the team’s strong defensive performance, especially after the first meeting between the two clubs.
“I think it was important for [Smith] and the rest of our group to make sure we can play a lot better than we played last week in Los Angeles,” Tippett added. “Giving up seven goals is not how we want to play. I think that was talked about well before the game. I felt we came out and played accordingly. Smitty was the lead horse in that part of it.”
The teams don’t face each other again until Jan. 28, when the Coyotes host the Kings shortly before the Olympic break.