The Kings didn’t lose because they played an afternoon game — see: St. Louis, Game 4, vs. — or because of whatever magical, mysterious powers some people believe an assistant coach has over a power play. The Kings lost because the Phoenix Coyotes are a very strong team, and they have a very well-defined way that they like to play hockey, and when they do it for 60 minutes, and when the other team isn’t at its best, the Coyotes are difficult to beat. That’s the essence of it. The Kings looked strong in the first half of the first period, but after the Coyotes scored, the Kings looked like a team that didn’t quite know how to handle a little adversity. The Kings have had a shockingly little amount of adversity in this postseason, and when some came their way in the first period yesterday, and when the Kings didn’t get an immediate “push-back’’ goal, they seemed to drift away from their game a bit and couldn’t quite get back to it.
Mike Smith was huge for the Coyotes, and moreover, the Coyotes’ sharp puck movement helped prevent the Kings from establishing much of a forecheck game. The Kings outshot the Coyotes by a wide margin, but the Coyotes seemed comfortable because, other than some stretches in the first period, Smith kept it relatively clean in terms of rebounds, and the Kings weren’t able to maintain much sustained pressure. The Kings also got burned on special teams, as they allowed a power-play goal for the first time in this series and they — meaning the players actually on the ice — went scoreless in more than nine minutes of power-play time. If the Kings, even subconsciously, started to think that playoff hockey was easy, they got a dose of reality on Sunday. What was the key aspect of the Kings’ 2-0 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 4? I present three options at the link below, and you can vote for your choice…
For those who enjoy the traditional game recap, it can be found by clicking here.