One good thing that came out of that last showdown was the fact that they finally scored a goal after going scoreless for 185:34 minutes at home. Creating offense has been a big emphasis this whole year, considering the team is immensely lacking on their execution.
The ‘Yotes had a four game gap between their last game and last night’s game against the Nashville Predators. During the break, they were given a few days off to perform some community service, and then hustled in practice for the next days leading up to the tussle against the Preds.
Nashville has been on fire this season, so the struggling Coyotes going up against the hot team is tough all in itself.
The Coyotes weren’t low on chances, but that always talked about “execution” wasn’t there, yet again. The puck is there, but they just aren’t getting it in the net, the only place that it needs to be. Offensively, there isn’t much to them. They need their players to turn out goals on chances, because just chances aren’t good enough if they seriously want to be playoff contenders.
We’ve heard the guys say before “it’s tough to score in this league”, and we’re really seeing this take a toll on the team.
Nashvilles’ Pekka Rinne is a very strong goalie, and you could say that he has had a lot to do with Nashville’s success this season, but the Coyotes not producing on the chances they get is a problem that they can’t seem to skate away from against most teams. Rinne is 19-5-1 on the season so far, and can take a big part of the credit for the teams 19-7-2 record.
The Defense That Keeps On Giving (Up Goals)
The Coyotes are turning the puck over way too much in their own zone. That has cost them more goals this season than anything else. You can blame it on the goaltending all you want (which hasn’t been so fantastic), but what it comes down to is the ability to help your goalie out, and keep the puck from getting as far as the ‘tender.
The Coyotes’ goalies have let in 93 goals so far this year. When the only player on the team with a plus rating (+1) is a call up who’s played in only two games, you know it’s rough. Defender Oliver Ekman-Larsson and forward Lauri Korpikoski are tied for worst +/- with -14, and most guys aren’t far from there.
You can read an interesting article from Fox Sport’s about OEL’s role on the team here.
Defenseman Keith Yandle stood out in last night’s game, though, jumping on the puck and having chances at goals. He looked hungry for the “W” and fought hard. His efforts went unrewarded, though and he went -3 on the night.
Consistency Is Killer
The phrase “at least they’re consistent” is a harsh reality to what the team has been. They have consistently been struggling in the same areas. While, yes, they might have got a goal early, but yet again, they couldn’t catch up to a lead. They keep letting the lead slip farther and farther away and it is downright killing them.
It’s been a tough pill to swallow for the team, seeing as they’ve been consistently sub-par, but in order to get what they want, they have to play without the same mistakes. They’ve had many players-only meetings and the conclusion has really been not to point fingers and think about the part that each player personally contributes to the team.
Antoine Vermette, who scored the teams lone goal, commented again on keeping regular in their game play saying, “you’ve got to find that consistency.”
“There are areas that we have to improve and we’ll keep pondering away at those, and we need our goaltending to try to improve to clean up some of the mistakes we are making.”- Coach Tippett on the improvement that they need to make
That Dang Penalty Kill
Now one thing that they really have been up-and-down with is the penalty kill. The Coyotes can’t seem to pick how they want to play on this. It started out good at the beginning of the season, went over to sucky, then started improving, and now last night it was downright ugly.
They gave up two power play goals in a row, and that’s partly due to sloppiness.
Coach Dave Tippett shared his thoughts on their penalty kill saying, “It’s one thing to take penalties, but when you can’t kill them off that’s the second part, poor coverage on the third one, really poor coverage by our two defensemen. Then we’re chasing the game.”
Nashville Proving They’re Legit
Nashville has been on a roll this season. They only trail the Chicago Blackhawks one point in their division, after being ranked #1 for quite some time.
No doubt the goaltending has been a huge part of why they are where they are, but their offense is stellar.
Getting James Neal from the Penguins in the offseason was a huge acquisition and he has proven himself to be an asset to the team. He scored his 11th goal of the season last night, and it seems as though he is headed for a successful season as a whole. He was given a leadership role begin named an assistant captain, and he’s certainly made a point that he is a force to be reckoned with.
Their head coach Peter Laviolette has done a full 180 with the team, and taken what used to be someone who struggled to have a winning season, and turned them into a potential playoff team. After trailing the game 1-0 on an early power play goal from the Coyotes, he didn’t seem to be too worried. That is due in part to the fact that he said the team has “given up the first goal maybe 50 percent of the time this year”, and it won’t stop them from making a comeback. That is certainly what they did, and they did indeed make a comeback.
“It doesn’t really seem to phase us and it hasn’t all year so I’ve never felt like we are behind, there is too much game and too much time to play. Our guys just do a really good job of staying with the process of how we want to play and we are able to get back in it.” -Laviolette on the early goal from the Coyotes
The Coyotes play the Minnesota Wild on Saturday, December 13th at home. Should be a good matchup, and hopefully a win for the desperate team.