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Off the Ice: It’s time for big boy hockey

Well, that sucked.

In case you missed it, the Los Angeles Kings rolled over
the Phoenix Coyotes in the opening game of the Western
Conference Finals, winning by a score that felt much
further spread than the final 4-2 scoreline.

The Kings came out and dominated the first period,
outshooting the Coyotes 17-4. They played like a team who
knows just how good they are.

The Coyotes lost Game 1. They lost home ice. They lost a
bad hockey game in a time of year when bad hockey is not

“I thought their whole team was better than our team,”
said Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett. “We weren’t close
in that game. We got beat in every facet of the game.
Hopefully we take
some lessons from it and we can be better next game.”

And now it’s time to respond.

Game 2 is Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. in Glendale. Between now —
8:49 p.m. Sunday — and then, the Coyotes need to step up
their game, get their heads straight and play big boy

The Kings are a great playoff team. They know how to get
inside the heads of their opponents and use the resulting
frustration to their advantage, exactly what they did to
the Coyotes. Dustin Brown was causing problems all over
the ice and was drawing their focus away from the play.
The Coyotes need to work around this. They need to be the
ones frustrating the other team. Too many times there were
power play opportunities wasted because a Coyote decided a
retaliatory hit was more important than a goal. Cheap
shots and the NHL playoffs go hand in hand. Get used to
it, get over it and play.

“If you’re
not willing to take those whacks and take a number, then
you’re going to be
in the penalty box and ultimately hurt our team,” said

There was a point when the Coyotes quit. I watched it
happen. Don’t believe me? Let me ask what your definition
of quitting is if you don’t think that clearly giving up
on pucks, careless passing and waiting for something to
happen is what happens when a hockey team quits. The score
as still close at that time — 2-2 — but it looked as if
the Coyotes were down 10-0 and playing solid hockey wasn’t
a priority. It was a very uncharacteristic move by
the team, one that doesn’t happen to a possible Stanley
Cup contender. No matter what, you keep fighting in the
playoffs. Always.

The Coyotes don’t have star power. The Kings do. That
issue can be put to bed. The Coyotes have personally seen
some of the biggest names out of the playoffs so far, but
they didn’t play like they are ready to send another batch
of talent home. Team play beats stars. Smart play beats
stars. Aggressive play beats stars. Coyotes hockey beats
stars. It’s time for the team to get back to their style,
not what showed up during Game 1.

As the playoffs go on, the bar gets higher and
higher,” said Tippett. “You have some players that can
rise with the bar and we didn’t
have enough guys rise with the bar tonight. We had some
games like this, but not to the point where we got
out-competed as bad as we did.”