Coyotes look to extend their postseason
Coming off the back of their first sustained momentum in the Western Conference finals, the Coyotes return home for tonight’s Game 5 knowing they must win to avoid elimination.
After a textbook performance from goalie Mike Smith and a memorable effort by captain Shane Doan inspired a Game 4 win over the Kings in Los Angeles, belief that this team could sneak out of a 3-0 deficit was starting to grow amongst Coyote fans.
But the reality of the situation is still grim. Elimination remains a likely prospect and with the series shifting to Jobing.com Arena, the odds will be stacked against the Coyotes. The Kings enjoy playing on the road; they enjoyed consecutive victories in Phoenix to build a 2-0 head start, and remain undefeated on the road with a 7-0 record in the playoffs.
Before Game 4, the Kings had yet to be shut out in the postseason and had allowed consecutive goals in a game only once. The Coyotes accomplished what no other team has done to the Kings in the post-season and will need to continue in tonight’s match-up.
“I really think it’s tough to come into a building and do it three times,” Doan said. “They did it Vancouver, and we acknowledge that but it’s tough to do it again.”
Luckily for the Coyotes, a blueprint of how to be successful against the Kings should be fresh in their minds. In Game 4, the Coyotes found a way to solve the relentless forecheck of the Kings and that snowballed into scoring opportunities and less time spent in their own zone defending.
“I liked the way we were more competitive in some one-on-one battles,” Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. “We gave ourselves a better chance to win because we won more battles.”
The Coyotes could be more engaged because they had puck possession. Even though they were still outshot, many would argue the bulk of the quality chances belonged to the Coyotes. And that started with finding a better way to get into the Kings’ zone.
The Coyotes combated the adversity in Game 4 with the desperation they felt to continue their season. Now the challenge will be to continue to use that desperation to climb back into the series.
Only three teams in NHL history have ever come back from a 3-0 deficit.
“We have to get on a run, and that’s what we’re talking about,” Doan said. “We’re capable of doing it. We did it throughout the year often. Hopefully Smitty can get on a run, a couple of us can get on a run, give him some support, and things can work out.”
Based on their away form this campaign, the Los Angeles Kings are favourites for today’s match at -130 and the Coyotes are available at +110 to win and extend their Stanley Cup chances.
Odds are from Intertops
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