Coyotes know they need to elevate their game in LA

Arizona Sports News online

The biggest thing stressed at the Coyotes optional skate on Wednesday was the fact that the team needs to play better against the Kings if they expect to win a game, let alone the series.

As sluggish as the team looked at times in Game 1, particularly in the early stages, they looked 1000 percent better during the same time frame in Game 2, until the final few minutes of the second period, when they totally crumbled, and turned into an enraged team, racking up penalties at an alarming rate.

If you’re an NHL team in the playoffs, you never want to lead your opposition in penalties, which is what the Coyotes did. They had almost 60 penalty minutes on Tuesday night!

Goalie Mike Smith didn’t mince words after the loss, essentially saying that everyone needs to take a good look inside themselves and figure out why they are here.

Are they just happy to be in the West Finals, or do they want to hoist the Stanley Cup trophy and be champions?

Smith was quick to point the finger of blame squarely in his direction as well, not dodging the fact that he needs to up his part in all of this.

“I think everyone recognizes in our dressing room that we haven’t played up to our capabilities,” Smith said. “That’s not one person, I think I’m included in that.”

The Coyotes were outshot 40-24 on Tuesday night. The Kings were outstanding with their puck movement and again kept pressure on the Coyotes defense and on Smith.

Head coach Dave Tippett realizes his team needs to take a page from the Kings and subject Kings goalie Jonathan Quick to the same treatment come Thursday night at Staples Center.

“Our execution has to be better,” Tippett said. “The ratio of our execution, pucks to the net, is not working out what we’d like to see, and that has to be more.”

Forward Radim Vrbata is all good with the team playing “hockey the hard way,” as long as they can put a “1” in the W column.

“I think for tomorrow we’ll have to go with the mindset that we’ll play our game, and if we have to win 1-0…great.”

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