There's that scene in nearly every great Western. You know it. Two hardened men stare each other down from opposite ends of a dusty locale, the tension building with each passing second that draws them closer to their demise. Each moment seems like an eternity, until, in flash, BANG!
The duel between the cities of Los Angeles and Phoenix has had enough tense and hate-fueled duels to fill 100 Sergio Leone films. While the rivalry isn't up to the level of New York versus Boston, it's still among the most heated in the nation.
Sitting at the root of the rivalry is the "little brother" mentality Arizona has towards LA. The glamour, the history, the wealth, the star power and nation's attention have long been focused on Los Angeles, while those in the Grand Canyon State deal with the scraps.
The Dodgers, Lakers, Bruins and Trojans have scores of titles, Hall of Famers and victories over the best that Arizona can throw out at them. Despite the general one-sided nature, each contest between the two regions is a fiercely contested battle.
The latest showdown takes this rivalry to the ice, as the Phoenix Coyotes will drop the puck tonight against the Los Angeles Kings, with a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals on the line. This marks the first time they have faced off in the playoffs, and the stakes can not be higher.
As if this series needed any additional weight, this is a chance for Arizona to exact vengeance for LA's devastating win in the last major battle between these cities, a loss that cut deep to the heart of Sun Devil Nation.
November 5, 2011. The Arizona State Sun Devils came to Pasadena atop the South Division at 6-2, ranked No. 19 in the nation and just a win over the middling UCLA Bruins from essentially locking up the division and a berth in the Pac-12 Championship game. The game seemed like a mere formality to the crowning of the Devils as the inaugural South champs.
Yet a funny thing happened. The Bruins didn't lay down and take what the Devils gave them. They hit back. They ran the ball with authority. They moved the ball through the air in big chunks. Suddenly, a 76-yard touchdown reception by Nelson Rosario gave UCLA a nine-point second half lead. What the hell?
But then, things seemed to return to normalcy. ASU scored two touchdowns to take a 28-23 lead late in the fourth quarter. The Bruins had one last chance, but facing a third and 29, ASU fans were feeling good. Then...
Well, let's not go back there, OK? Suffice it to say, LA won this round over Phoenix in shocking and crushing fashion. That wound has not healed. Not by a long shot.
But should the Coyotes managed to solve the Jonathan Quick riddle four times, a major win will be scored by the good guys, and part of the Sun Devils' loss will be avenged. The other part will have to wait until October 27th.
But until then, the malice, ill will and contempt will thrive. Let's Go Coyotes. Let's Go Sun Devils.
Ready? Draw. Beat LA!
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