Back on Feb. 16, in a game between the Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix Coyotes, the physicality was evident, and it gave Phoenix an edge in a 1-0 victory over their Pacific Division foes. It's safe to say things weren't the same on Tuesday night, as the Coyotes let the rough stuff get a bit out of hand in their 4-0 Game 2 loss to the Kings.
With two ejections and 56 total penalty minutes, it was clear Phoenix lost its ability to play controlled hockey.
Down 2-0 in the second period with the game still in reach, Phoenix found itself with some pretty decent opportunities in front of Kings netminder Jonathan Quick; however, the tide turned when the Kings carried the puck into the Phoenix zone on the power play, causing some commotion along the boards. Shane Doan attempted to make a hard hit on Trevor Lewis, the King with possession of the puck in the corner, but he ended up getting Lewis from behind, smashing his face into the boards.
Granted, Lewis turned his back at the worst time and Doan was initially targeting the shoulder, but boarding is boarding, and Doan found himself with a five-minute major and a game misconduct thanks to Lewis' bleeding face.
At the exact same time as the Doan incident, Daymond Langkow was called for slashing, putting Phoenix down two men for a lengthy period of time without two solid penalty killers. Things just snow-balled from there.
Midway through the third period, Dustin Brown, who has made a serious case for playoff MVP, slowed up and made a quick play in the defensive zone when Martin Hanzal essentially hunted Brown and slammed him head-first into the boards.
Hanzal also received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for the hit.
When Raffi Torres was banished from playoffs in Round 1 for his hit on Marian Hossa, it wasn't part of a bigger problem for the team that they would need to change. Now possibly playing without one or even two of their best players, the Coyotes will have to dig deep and strap down to play far more disciplined than they have lately.
Phoenix has had the good fortune of playing some teams that have struggled mightily on the power play in the Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks, so their high number of shorthanded minutes (90:25 for the entire postseason) had not nipped them too badly until Game 2.
Yes, the Kings' power play is pretty awful, but with the way things seem to be playing out in this series, the Coyotes are going to need every chance they can get offensively, and when you're playing on the penalty kill so often, you're limiting yourself when it comes to those chances.
Jeff Carter may have been the typical "blind squirrel finding a nut" with his two power-play goals in Game 2, but that doesn't change the fact that the the man advantage gives Los Angeles even more zone time, which carries over to the even strength game and pins Phoenix in its own zone even further.
Let's face it -- the Kings have been phenomenal at establishing their game in this series. Once they have the lead, they become absolutely unstoppable and their confidence only increases as the game goes on. If the Coyotes continue to give them chances to maintain their swagger through games, Phoenix's Cinderella playoff story might end sooner than they hope.