Coyotes Kick Back in Game 4
The Los Angeles Kings are just one game away from going to their second Stanley Cup Final in franchise history. The only time the Kings were able to get to the Stanley Cup Finals came in the 1992-93 season, when the Montreal Canadiens won the cup in just five games. However, this Kings team has been looking extremely capable of achieving the highest honor in the NHL, but the Phoenix Coyotes are not going to fade into the distance so easily.
The Coyotes captain, Shane Doan, pushed, fought and willed his team to victory in Game 4 yesterday, scoring the only two goals of the entire game. The Coyotes were able to return the shutout-at-home party favor to the Kings, after the embarrassing 4-0 loss in Game 2 in Phoenix. Doan, the 6'2" Alberta, Canada native was able to employ trickery as well as determination in this 2-0 Coyotes win.
In the first period, one would think that the Kings had more energy than the visiting Coyotes, considering the Kings outshot the Coyotes 10-5. However, the Coyotes were playing very opportunistic, trusting their goaltender, Mike Smith to make spectacular saves. The Coyotes were playing opportunistic for the entire game, considering they were outshot in each period.
The 35 year old, Doan, was able to get the first goal of the game on the power play late in the first period. Doan received a pass from Ray "the Wizard" Whitney, and controlled the puck behind the net. Then Doan came around the backside of the net, with a no look shot, fired a backhanded shot. The puck was able to thread it's way through the arm pit of Jon Quick and into the back of the net.
With the previous games between these two squads featured a lot of penalty minutes, one would think that discipline would be a top priority for both teams. Clearly, after watching Game 4, both of these teams either do not listen to the coaches who preach "no penalties" or they genuinely dislike one another and refuse to get pushed around by their opponent.
The Coyotes received seven penalties over the course of yesterday's Game 4, while the Kings received five of their own. Not only did the Kings have opportunities on the power play to score, but they also had a number of opportunities throughout the game to get on the scoreboard. Outshooting their opponent 36-21 in this Game 4 situation, the Kings cannot expect to win a game in which they get shutout.
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"I'm not too worried about our compete level" said Kings head coach Darryl Sutter. Sutter is right. Kings fans should not be worried in the slightest with the loss yesterday for a number of reasons. First, the Kings have only lost one game in the playoffs before yesterday, boasting a 11-2 record this postseason. Two, the Kings had to start out on the road every series thus far, and every series has started with at least a two game lead for the Kings.
Possibly the most important thing for Kings fans to realize, since acquiring Jeff Carter at the trade deadline, the Kings have only lost six games in regulation in a total of 32 games. They have lost an extra three games in overtime, but those all came in the regular season. However after getting Carter from the Columbus Blue Jackets in the regular season, the Kings had a regular season record of 12-4-3. It is clear that the Kings are a force to be reckoned with since reuniting Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.
Even if the Coyotes are able to neutralize the reunited pair on the Kings, they will still have to take into account the other Kings stand outs like Dustin Brown, Justin Williams, Jarret Stoll, and possibly the most talented player left in the playoffs, Anze Kopitar. If the Stanley Cup ends up in the hands of the Kings this season, a large part of the victory will be due to the tenacious play from Brown and the finesse play from Kopitar.
The Kings have such a complete team, they match up well against any team in the NHL. The Kings have a stud in net with Jon Quick, a very capable defense lead by Drew Doughty, and an offense that is very explosive. The Coyotes still have a shot at winning this series, but the Kings are just too complete as a team to think the Coyotes will actually win.
By: Stephen London
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer