Variety is the spice of life, and point form notes have gotten tougher and tougher to write without being stale and repetitive, so here’s you spice. Hope you like it.
It has been an interesting year for Jeff Carter – an indirect route to his exact location after a game two win in Phoenix. Here was a player after a year of trades, character assassination and punchlines taking questions on being the hat-trick hero in a conference final game.
It was a tiresome meme in the online world. Carter gets robbed of a glorious chance right there on his usual doorstep and we all rush to our twitter accounts to see who could write “2009 Jeff Carter would have scored there” first. All you need is that bounce. He got that and then some. The confidence of a goal scorer is fragile and just one was the bubble wrap he has been looking for all this time.
“You’re obviously thinking about it. It’s always in the back of your mind. I tried to keep patient and keep working in practice, like I said, during the games trying to get to the net, trying to get a couple good bounces there,” Carter said. “Lucky enough to get a couple today. It’s a good start.”
To think that the Kings have gone 10-1 in the playoffs to this point without one of their stars scoring at all is remarkable. Much of that is attributed to Jonathan Quick. Every game we hear commentators bandy about “the book” on Quick: shoot high, shoot early. The thing is, everyone is shooting high and early. He’s stopping them. In game two, he stopped every single shot, no matter how high or how early.
“Obviously I wanted to get off to a better start than I did last game there. You know, in order to win on the road, you need your goalie to make a few saves,” Quick said. “For the most part we did a great job of keeping a lot of the chances to the outside, clearing out rebounds and stuff like that. When they needed me, I was able to make the save.”
You have to wonder if Quick has any idea how stellar he has been to this point as there is something unassuming about his observation on how to win a road game. The goalie does need to make a few saves, and he has been above the call of duty since game one in Vancouver.
The question coming into this series was who would win the battle of the goaltenders. Both Quick and Mike Smith have been Conn Smythe worthy to this point. Their performances through two rounds evoked memories of J.S. Giguere’s two runs with Anaheim and something had to give. On the surface it appears that Quick holds the decisive edge in the battle, but that doesn’t do Smith the justice he’s owed. A 36 save performance doesn’t typically net you a 4-0 loss, but that’s exactly what happened on Tuesday night.
“We got outcompeted again, outbattled, we didn’t penetrate the middle of the ice, we played on the outside,” Smith said.
It no doubt frustrates the man who has consistently put the Coyotes in a position to win. Things came unglued for the Coyotes, top to bottom. Penalties were called, assignments were missed and those bounces Smith has found his way to stopping in the playoffs thus far found their way past him and into the back of the net.
Shane Doan and Keith Yandle both found themselves on the wrong end of untimely and unfortunate penalty calls. Their assessment was as straight from the hip as you get – a simple, “it is what it is.” For a team down two games, preparing to play their next without Martin Hanzal, an about-face would be the best approach. Smith, however, summed it up best for the ‘Yotes.
“It’s the first to four not the first to two, so no need to push the panic button yet. But, we do need to be better.”
He’s right, there is no need to panic. The Coyotes have at least two more games to right their ship and find the game that brought them this far. Unfortunately for them though, Jeff Carter just hit four and I don’t expect him to stop there. Jonathan Quick is already at 10. To make matters worse, he knows exactly what’s coming his way in game three.
“We know they’re going to bring their best. That’s all we’re looking at right now.”