LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 17: Rostislav Klesla #16 of the Phoenix Coyotes slides in front of goaltender Jonathan Quick #32 of the Los Angeles Kings in the third period in Game Three of the Western Conference Final during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Staples Center on May 17, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
With the Phoenix Coyotes in a do or die situation down 3-0 in their series with the Los Angeles Kings, it is now or never for the Desert Dogs. The question is will they come out fighting now that their backs are against the wall. However, as they say the close out game in a playoff series is always the hardest to win for the team leading the series.
Five For Winning
1. No time to panic. Yes, Phoenix is in the biggest hole imaginable in the playoffs. However, they need to focus all their efforts every shift on making smart plays with the puck. This is especially true if the Kings get a lead. The Yotes have had a tendency to make mistakes when things have been going against them in this series whether it be taking needless penalties, unnecessarily turning the puck over, or running around in their own end instead of sticking with their assignments.
2. Manage body clocks. The Noon start is the earliest one Phoenix has had all season. The players can ill afford to be sluggish to start the game by getting in early hole on the scoreboard.
3. Rubber on goal. Sounds simple enough, but the Desert Dogs aren't doing it enough this series. They are averaging just over 23 shots on goal a game while LA is averaging over 38 hots per game.
4. Crash the net. The Coyotes still aren't making life miserable for Jonathan Quick. He must be forced to scramble and see through screens.
5. Hope for Kings letdown. Yes, it has come to this. Maybe the Kings will be looking ahead or maybe they just have tickets to the Clippers vs. Spurs game and want to make sure they are showered and can eat dinner before tip off.
Players To Watch
|2011 - Martin Hanzal||64||8||26||34||12||63||3||0||2||145|
Marty returns from his one game suspension on Sunday. He needs to have a monster game to open up space for linemates, especially Radim Vrbata. Also,m after getting control of pucks and getting them into the hands of his wingers he needs to say hello to Mr. Quick in front of the goaltender's crease.
|2011 - Dwight King||27||5||9||14||3||10||0||0||1||42|
He has one less goal in 3 games in this series than he had in the 27 games he played for LA in the regular season. His goals have been back breakers. The Yotes have to stop losing coverage on the guy.
|2011 - Mike Smith||67||3903||38||18||144||2.21||2066||1922||.930||8|
Smith continues to have a solid series.
|2011 - Jonathan Quick||69||4099||35||21||133||1.95||1863||1730||.929||10|
Quick has continued his Vezina worthy play, though the Yotes have made his job fairly easy.
Phoenix Coyotes Injuries
|Player||Injury Type||Injury Date|
Aucoin practiced with the team on Friday and Saturday and said he's ready to go for Game 4. The question now is whether he will be inserted into the lineup. If he's close to healthy one would suspect he will be.
Los Angeles Kings Injuries
Sunday is going to be about the Coyotes attempting to win things shift by shift. They can't focus on anything other than what is right in front of them all afternoon.