A collection of quotes from the Kings following yesterday’s 2-0 Game 4 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes, from LA Kings Insider Rich Hammond…
Matt Greene: “We just have to get more traffic in front of Smith.”
Dustin Penner: “You talk about screen, tip, rebound, and we didn’t get enough of that tonight. We let him see too many pucks, and we didn’t get enough second chances.’’
Anze Kopitar: “We have to get some bodies in front of the net and make it tough on Smith.’’
Safe to say the Kings’ goal coming into this series was to make Smith’s life uncomfortable. They did it extremely well through Games 1-3, using their big bodies (most notably Dwight King) to put traffic at the top of the blue ice while showing an amazing level of restraint in post-whistle scrums.
On Sunday, the Kings were hardly in Smith’s kitchen at all.
You do have to wonder if Phoenix’s lobbying (Smith’s in particular) finally worked in Game 4. Justin Williams was whistled on a rather innocuous interference play, a penalty that led to Shane Doan’s game-winning tally.
Afterward, Williams told reporters that the officials “told me to stay away from the goalie,” and that he was “obviously not trying to interfere with [Smith].”
In terms of maintaining and limiting traffic, it was clear Phoenix played a much tighter, defensive game, as explained by NHL.com’s Cory Masisak:
Eventually the shots started coming from farther away, and Smith had relatively easy stops to make after Phoenix grabbed a one-goal and then a two-tally advantage. Even in the third period when the Kings attempted 31 shots, only 13 reached Smith and most were pretty harmless.
“Depends where those shots are coming from,” [Dave] Tippett said. “If they’re coming from outside, that’s one thing. If they’re coming from right in the guts of the ice, that’s another. We didn’t give up near as many chances tonight as we gave up earlier.
“The bend, don’t break — we have to play a certain way if we’re going to have success. It starts with competing, you know, blocking shots, things like that.“
For one game, at least, the Coyotes didn’t break. Now they have to do it for three more.