GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Mike Smith
has had a great postseason, and the Los Angeles Kings
saw in Game 4 of this Western Conference Finals how he can affect a game both by stopping shots and by stopping the forecheck with his outlet passes.
The objective for the Kings in Game 5 Tuesday (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS) will be simple, but not something that always is easy to execute: Make Smith work more in his crease and less outside of it. Los Angeles had 36 shots in Game 4, but many were from the perimeter and few came after the initial attempt.
"Some of them were [quality shots], some of them were from the outside," Kings center Anze Kopitar
said. "Sometimes even the outside shot seems harmless, but it can be dangerous. The second and third chances off that shot are the most important. We've got to make sure we keep making him work and get some guys in front of him."
Added forward Dustin Penner
: "We need to put more traffic towards their goaltender, get more second and third opportunities. Not so many one-chance-and-done kind of things."
The other facet of Smith's game that frustrates opponents is his ability to play the puck. Los Angeles loves to wear teams down on the forecheck, and the Kings have had success doing that against the smaller Coyotes. Not so after the early stages in Game 4, however, and Smith's ability to get the puck out of danger before the L.A. forwards arrive was a big part of that.
As Kopitar put it, when the Kings send the puck into the Phoenix end they need to "either fire it really hard or try to make sure it doesn't end up in the trapezoid area."
"Smith can handle the puck with the top goalies in the League," forward Dwight King
said. "We try to keep our dumps away from him, realizing that he can make plays with [the puck]. We definitely know what he is capable of doing to us and we need to keep that in our mindset."
The Kings have lost only twice in this postseason, both times being a Game 4 with a chance to sweep the opponent. Los Angeles responded in Game 5 against Vancouver with an overtime victory at Rogers Arena.
They will be going for their eighth consecutive victory away from Staples Center when they face the Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena.
"We've had to be [a good road team]. That's a fact," coach Darryl Sutter
said. "You're not a home-ice team, you've got to be. When you're a team that doesn't score many goals, you've got to be. You've got to manufacture and find different ways to do it. We found it.
"I know what the talk is, because of our road record. When you look at all the different ways the team's won, it's won by your goalie being great, or your power play, or the other team taking a bad penalty, your penalty killing, overtime. There's so many different ways to it. It's not just, 'That's how you did it, that's how you do it.' There's so many different ways of doing it. The biggest thing we do is, win or lose, try and play the same way. That's the most important thing."
Here is the projected lineup for the Kings, who aren't expected to make any changes from Game 4:
- Anze Kopitar
- Dustin Brown
- Mike Richards
- Jeff Carter
- Jarrett Stoll - Trevor Lewis
- Brad Richardson
- Colin Fraser
- Drew Doughty
- Slava Voynov
- Alec Martinez