Tuesday, 21 December 2010

How to shoot yourself in the foot: The Phoenix Coyotes.

  • Too many penalties
  • Lack of speed
  • Lack of effort
  • No finisher
Those are just four of the issues that plagued the Coyotes during their four game road trip of the Atlantic division. The New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, New York Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins were the desert dog's opponents and in each game the Coyotes found ways to, as Dave Tippet says, “shoot themselves in the foot.”

They simply failed to turn up against the Devils and ended up getting shut out. Against the Rangers they were two goals up in the first period before they started to take penalty after penalty, thereby letting the Rangers back into the game. Against the League's worst team in the Islanders, the Coyotes did manage a win, their only win of the road trip, but made very, very hard work of it. Last night's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, however, was the worst of all. After failing to convert a number of chances in the first period, the Coyotes' gave up three power-play goals on their way to a 6-1 defeat.

What seems to be a massive problem for the Coyotes is the lack of a sniper, a 30+ goals a season man. The Coyotes' top goal scorer this season is Martin Hanzal and he only has nine goals. Nine? I know the Coyotes are a team that all pitch in, but really, after 32 games it's not good at all. The 'Yotes cannot rely on Wolski or Stempniak to get them a ton of goals or Doan, who has been fantastically reliable and consistent over the years but hardly prolific.

Morris and Aucoin: Are they too slow?

Another problem is the defense. They are either too slow or too inexperienced. Aucoin, Morris and Jovanovski are good players but they get left behind every time a speedy skater hits the ice and are making mistakes because of it. The younger defensemen such as Ekman-Larsson, who looks like a great prospect, and Schlemko, who is getting better, are also prone to making silly mistakes that are costing the team right now. Even Yandle, who has been so solid this year, and leads the team in points and time-on-ice, had an iffy road trip. 

What this team really needs is some fresh blood. They need a new forward or two who can put up at least 30 goals a season and a couple of experienced, quick and reliable defensemen who can replace Jovanovski and Aucoin as they come to the end of their careers and be role models for the younger prospects. Also, while the Coyotes do have Bissonnette to stand up for the less physical players, they only have Bissonnette, and he isn't a great player. A couple of better players who can go toe-to-toe with the League's other enforcers would be great to protect the likes of Turris as they develop. For example Pittsburgh have players such as Engelland (who battered Pyatt last night), Asham and Cooke to protect their star forwards.

The Coyotes have a great coach, a great captain and goaltender (who they desperately need to re-sign) and a great GM. Now with a new owner and a secure future, this is a positive time for the franchise itself. However, they do need to improve drastically on the ice to reach the play-offs this season.

As a fan of the 'Yotes, I'd love for this road trip to serve as a massive wake up call that brings back the Coyotes of last season, but I might be dreaming about that. I guess I will have to see how they react in a very tough game against San Jose on Thursday. 


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