"Ultimately, you know, they're a pretty good team. They're getting some breaks on some calls I think that eventually wore us down."
And with that quote from Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, you can officially put the 2011-12 season to bed for the Desert Dogs.
Their magical postseason run, one that seemed like it could be destined for the Stanley Cup Final just a week ago, will come to an end at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings and, unfortunately, a lack of toughness when the Coyotes needed it most.
Because, while the officials in this series have been bad -- really, really bad -- they are not the reason the Coyotes will be watching the next series on T.V.
The Kings are simply a better team. Somehow. In every way imaginable. And Tippett, who is easily one of the best coaches in the NHL, knows it.
Spending time discussing how players benefit from "embellishment" -- a tactic known as flopping in other circles -- is noble in that, honestly, he's right. But still, that's not what you want to hear.
A coach who thinks his team can beat an opponent does not spend multiple press conferences talking about officiating. A coach who thinks his team can beat an opponent discusses exactly how it can happen, saying that a small change here or there can be the difference.
That is not the case in this series, and it stinks.
But it's reality.
"But, you know, this last series, we just haven't been able to get enough guys to the level that we need to get to," Tippett added. "We talked about that after the first couple games. The level is being raised here. We just haven't been able to get to the next level."
They have not been able to get to the next level because, quite frankly, they can't. The Kings are the Coyotes' first two postseason opponents combined: Chicago's offense with Nashville's goaltending.
Everything Coyotes fans may have feared coming into this series has come to fruition, and the last thing the team needed was shaky officiating. But they're getting it, and are not handling it particularly well.
"Obviously that hurts any team when you're getting calls like that, momentum taken out of the game," defenseman Keith Yandle said. "We were doing a good job of rolling four lines. On those penalties, you got to run only four guys. That's something that took us out of the game a little bit.
"But you can't blame it on that."
No, you can't, and it's unfortunate the officials are even a topic of discussion. However, that's what happens with fans, because we look for a reason to explain our team's demise that does not involve admitting they're just not as good.
But when the thought process seeps into the dressing room and is one of the first things out of a coach's mouth?
That's a sign it's time to turn out the lights, because there's nothing left to accomplish.