Three key aspects of the Kings’ 2-0 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes...
1. BEST PLAYERS VS. BEST PLAYERS
The No. 1 star of the game? Coyotes captain Shane Doan. The No. 2 star of the game? Coyotes goalie Mike Smith. They were good, as was Phoenix’s second-line center, Antoine Vermette. On the Kings’ side of things, Jonathan Quick was fine -- he got beat on a deflection and a play on which Doan was given way too much time and space -- but where was everyone else? Dustin Brown has been magnificent for the entire playoffs, so he gets a temporary pass for his disappearing act, but in general, the Kings’ first and second lines were not equal to the task. In a close-out game, that can’t happen. The Kings will need more from their big guns in Game 5.
2. GOOD START, NO PAYOFF
It seemed clear that the first five or 10 minutes of the first period would be important, and the Kings had to feel pretty good about themselves at the midway point of the opening period. They weren’t perfect, by any means, but they were getting to the front of the net and had a handful of goal-front opportunities that easily could have gone in. They didn’t, though, and the team -- not to mention the entire arena -- seemed to deflate when the Coyotes broke through against the Kings’ previously-perfect penalty kill and scored a power-play goal. It was only one goal, but the Coyotes play better with the lead, and the Kings looked more shell-shocked than they should.
3. SPECIAL-TEAMS LOSS
The elephant in the room, the fact that the Kings (for the most part) have not been able to score on the power play has been camouflaged by the fact that the Kings have been so good on the penalty kill. It’s not really that the Kings have been winning the special-teams battles of late. It’s that the battles have been stalemates, and the Kings have played well enough 5-on-5 to win. Well, the fortune ran out in Game 4. As was inevitable at some point, the Kings allowed a power-play goal, and they also failed to score in more than nine minutes of power-play time. The Kings desperately needed a momentum-generating power-play goal, and it never arrived.