- Pierre LeBrun, NHL
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But that wasn’t the topic Phoenix coach Dave Tippett wanted to focus on afterward.
Tippett, perhaps fueled by the frustration of his team being down 3-0 in the Western Conference finals, wondered how different the result might have been if it were not for officiating he felt was not up to par.
"If I told you what I really thought, I think it would cost me a lot of money,” Tippett said after the game.
And then he went ahead and shared some thoughts on the officiating of Wes McCauley and Dan O’Halloran and what he felt was some embellishing by some Kings players.
"Personally, I've talked about this in a lot of meetings with [GM Don Maloney], our general manager, that the game is turning a little dishonest and it's embellishment by players,” Tippett said. "When it's done well, it's very hard for the referees, very hard, because if you fall down near the boards or you drop your stick or you throw your head back, you're putting the referee in a very tough situation."
No doubt Tippett was referring to the dropped stick on Radim Vrbata’s slashing penalty late in the game which all but killed any chance for Phoenix to tie it. Kings center Anze Kopitar's stick was knocked loose by Vrbata on the play. Or did Kopitar drop it?
It capped a frustrating night for the Coyotes, who were penalized six times for 12 minutes while the Kings had two minors for four minutes.
"You know, not just our game tonight, you see it all through,” Tippett continued on the subject of embellishment.
"If everybody else is doing it, you better do it, too. We saw more than one penalty out there for us and against us that were called that I thought were plays where there was embellishment. It's too bad it has to go that way. It's too bad you get to this point in the season that that becomes a factor, but it's the reality of our game right now."
Kings coach Darryl Sutter seemed surprised when told of Tippett’s comments.
"Embellishing? I didn’t see that," Sutter said. "We didn’t complain last game."
Read into that: The Kings didn’t complain about the Coyotes ramming two of their players from behind into the boards.
Officiating aside, the Coyotes battled hard on this night despite the loss, and they are not rolling over. The Coyotes showed character and played their best game of the series. But again, that effort fell short against a Kings team with all the answers.
"It was a tight game all the way through,” Tippett said. "We didn't create a lot, but we hung around the game, gave ourselves a chance to win.
"I thought we're not generating enough to put any pressure on them. We were all right early, we hung around the game. Ultimately, you know, they're a pretty good team. They're getting some breaks on some calls I think that eventually wore us down."
1dScott Burnside and Craig Custance