For all the accolades Coach Dave Tippett's defense-oriented system receives, the Phoenix Coyotes give up a ton of shots.
In the regular season, the number was 31.6 per game, which placed them 28th overall. In the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the number was 36.4 shots per game through 11 contests — inflated somewhat by their first-round overtime game against the Chicago Blackhawks, but hefty nonetheless.
In their Game 1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Final, the Coyotes surrendered 48 shots on goal. Tally up the blocked and missed shots, and the Kings pumped 90 pucks toward Phoenix goalie Mike Smith.
No one has taken the fight to the Coyotes like this for 60 minutes in the playoffs, and no one has gotten under their skin like the Kings did, either. The margin was only two goals — a 4-2 victory — but the margin felt much wider.
"We weren't close in that game. We got beat in every facet of the game," said Tippett. "I felt that our execution was so poor … the execution and the will to get things done are going to have to improve if we're going to have a chance in this series."
Trouble spots for the Coyotes beyond the shot total:
• The Coyotes had scored first in seven of their 11 playoff games, going 6-1. Anze Kopitar's goal at 3:53 of the first period was a critical rally for the road team and led to a first-period domination with only Derek Morris's fluke goal against Jonathan Quick providing relief.
• Radim Vrbata, Martin Hanzal and Ray Whitney were kept off the board and were thoroughly outplayed when matched with the Carter/Richards/Penner line. Tippett got them away from the trio midway through the game, but still couldn't get anything on the board. The Kopitar/Brown line also couldn't be stopped.
• Bad penalties. Mike Smith took a roughing call in the first. Hanzal took a retaliation penalty after a cross-check. Oliver Ekman-Larsson was forced to take an interference penalty just 8 seconds into a third-period power play.
• Both Dwight King's goal and Dustin Brown's tally came on plays where the Coyotes simply saw their coverage break down. Brown's game-winner was especially frustrating: Slava Voynov threading the needle between two Coyotes in the neutral zone, and then Brown burying one past Smith on a save he'd have made in previous rounds.
• That said: Mike Smith outplayed Quick, and this is going to feel like a squandered opportunity in a few games.
The bar has been raised for the Coyotes in facing this Kings team. As Tippett said: "We didn't have enough guys rise to the bar tonight."
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