When the third period of Game 4 between the Arizona Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche got underway, the Coyotes put Antti Raanta in net. Darcy Kuemper was fine, and the blowout wasn’t his fault. But they might as well give Raanta his 2020 postseason debut, since the game was all but over, anyway.
Arizona went on to lose, 7-1.
After the Avalanche got their sixth goal, head coach Rick Tocchet called a timeout. He looked defeated — understandably — with his hands at his sides as he addressed his team behind the bench. “Come on,” he appeared to say, following a monologue to a group that was being blown out embarrassingly on national television.
“It’s everything. Missed passes. Pinch in when you shouldn’t, change wh– It was just a total debacle,” Tocchet said after the game. “We had some guys that looked like they haven’t played before. I don’t have an answer right now. It’s on me. I thought these guys were prepared. We had a good day yesterday, a good video session today. This whole bubble thing, it’s who wants to stay and who wants to go home. For this game, we looked like we wanted to go home. We’ll see the next game.”
The Coyotes now trail the series 3-1. It’s a best-of-seven, meaning Colorado needs one more win to eliminate Arizona.
“Tonight we got a free lesson on what playoff hockey’s really like when you don’t come to play and you don’t ready yourself to execute,” forward Derek Stepan said.
It will take quite a turnaround for the Coyotes to win the series. They will have to get more shots on goal (they only mustered 15 on Monday), they’ll have to score more goals, they’ll have to spend more time in the offensive zone and less time running Keumper into the ground. As Tocchet said in frustration after a loss in Game 1: “It’s Darcy, Darcy, Darcy, and that’s it.”
“I was just disappointed for our goalies,” Tocchet said. “That’s the one thing that hurts. We let Kuemps hang to dry. The guy’s been superhuman for us. Then Raants, obviously coming from an injury, we let him hang to dry. So for the goalies, pretty disappointed.”
Monday was, putting it lightly, a disaster. The Coyotes were down 3-0 at first intermission. They had only four shots on goal at the halfway point in the game. They gave up two power play goals to the same player (Nazem Kadri) in the same period (the first). Colorado scored on two of the first three shots Raanta faced in the third period. They were outshot 30-15. Conor Garland left the game and didn’t return.
Prior to Monday, the series had been competitive, even if the Avalanche looked like the better team. The Coyotes won Game 3 to cut their series deficit in half. They could do that again in Game 5, sure. The work is cut out for them.
But the Avalanche are Stanley Cup hopefuls, and the score indicated that on Monday.
“Listen, we’ve all been in life and been embarrassed before,” Tocchet said. “I’ve played hockey, I’ve been embarrassed, we’ve all been. I can’t tell you a guy that played well. We were embarrassed. Colorado, it was men against boys today.
“Saying that, we lost one game. I’m going to give the positive turn on it. We lost one game. Yeah, I know everybody’s going to say you’ve got no chance the next game. I’m looking for some character from some guys. I saw some stuff I didn’t like. So we have 24 or 36 hours to regain something.”
THE GAME ITSELF
“I don’t know where to start, really,” Stepan said. “But obviously it started off taking a little bit too many penalties and letting some weak goals and bad defending. We’ve got to do a better job defending helping our goalies out — we kind of left them out to dry there.”
The first goal of the game came when Oliver Ekman-Larsson got caught behind the play as Matt Nieto skated in alone and scored on a pass from Matt Calvert. Only 5:32 later, the Coyotes had given up two power play goals to Kadri.
Joonas Donskoi scored on a rush chance beyond the halfway point in the second period, making it 4-0. Jakob Chychrun’s power play goal made it 4-1 before the second period ended.
For the third period, Raanta replaced Kuemper, who made 18 saves on 22 shots faced. Raanta made five saves on eight shots.
Cale Makar, Matt Calvert and Mikko Rantanen were the goal-scorers in the third period.
Arizona was 1-for-4 on the power play. Colorado was 3-for-7.
— Arizona’s power play is 1-for-13 in this series (7.7%). Colorado’s is 4-for-16 (25%).
— The Coyotes’ 15 shots on goal Monday were, surprisingly, not the fewest they’ve had in a game in this series. They had 14 in Game 1 and are averaging 21 shots per game. During the regular season, 21 shots per game would have been the fewest in the NHL by far. Arizona averaged 27.7, ranked 19th in the league.