The Arizona Coyotes weren’t able to come out with the win on goaltender Mike Smith’s 33rd birthday last night, but that doesn’t mean the effort wasn’t there from certain players. The Vancouver Canucks ultimately performed much better than the Coyotes, and they were able to come out victorious. The Coyotes have now lost 18 of their last 19 games, and have just 9 games left before their season comes to an end.
Poor execution doesn’t win hockey games
The Coyotes execution last night was not great; the Canucks outshot the Coyotes 44 to 27. Vancouver goaltender Jacob Markstrom only had to face 27 shots. Compared to the Canucks number, that wasn’t a lot. The Coyotes went the first 10 minutes of the game with only 2 shots on goal. If they aren’t shooting, they aren’t scoring.
“Yeah we weren’t nearly as good tonight, our execution was so poor tonight that when you play back to back games and your execution is poor that means you’re chasing the puck all the time and it takes a lot of energy to chase the puck,” said head coach Dave Tippett on the overall game. “We just weren’t near as good tonight. Mike Smith was excellent, he gave us a chance, but other than that far too many quality chances against us and not near enough for.”
Ekman-Larsson goes coast-to-coast
Oliver Ekman-Larsson has been one of the best players on the Coyotes all season long. In a year like they’ve had, to have his consistency and goal-scoring ability says a lot. OEL now is the only player on Arizona’s squad with 20 goals, and he leads the league with goals by a defenseman.
His humble stance on his abilities make things that much better. He claims that everything that has happened this season is due to “luck”. He must be awfully lucky if this is the case. His efforts have not gone unrewarded as he was picked to represent at the 2015 All Star Game and he has recently been named an alternate captain for this season.
“Thank God we have him still. He’s a special player obviously, everyone knows that now. He’s really making a name for himself in this league; we are very fortunate to have him on our team and he’s a great kid too,” said goaltender Mike Smith. “Like I said he’s a special kid with a boat load of talent and obviously he’s leading our team in goals, it says a lot about how important he is to our team and how unbelievable he is as a player.”
Ekman-Larsson has had quite a few games where he was the only player to score, and last night was no different. What was different about him scoring the only goal of the game is how he scored it. After a feed from Joe Vitale behind goaltender Mike Smith, OEL took the puck end-to-end and scored at the goal line after two other shot attempts. This impressive goal shows his intelligence with the puck and truly how special of a player he is.
“I had good speed through the neutral zone and I just shot it on net. I had two chances to put it in so yeah, it was a lucky goal,” said Ekman-Larsson on his goal.
Smith makes 41 saves
Mike Smith has really improved his game, and it’s unfortunate that it came so late in the season. Smith had another game where he faced an exceedingly large amount of shots. Out of the Canucks 44 shots, Smith was able to block an impressive 41 shots on goal. So yes, Mike Smith can’t even have that ‘puck luck’ on his birthday.
The Canucks jumped into the game at full-speed, and the first fifteen minutes of the game was spent waiting for an inevitable goal by Vancouver. Their shot count was double what the Coyotes had and when Yannick Weber rocketed one past Smith, they were almost able to take a deep breath due to how the majority of that first period was played in the Coyotes defensive zone. Another unlucky power play goal and an empty-netter topped off Vancouver’s win.
“Every season is a different season and he has to come in prepared for the next year, he can’t look back to the spring where you’re playing meaningless games, that’s where you’re getting your confidence from but that’s not going to happen,” said Dave Tippett on Mike Smith taking the momentum into next season. “He is going to have to prepare in the summer and come in ready to play in the fall.”