Offense is a part of the NHL that has quickly begun to thrive. The Phoenix Coyotes are one of those teams that are beginning to catch on that trend, but in a much more unique approach.
Phoenix is one of the top teams in the Pacific Division, but the way they are winning games makes them one of the more difficult teams to play against. At 11-3-2, only 1 of their wins they have maintained a lead in (against Los Angeles on 10/29/13). The rest of their wins they have needed to either break a tie or come from behind.
While the team is enjoying the wins, head coach Dave Tippett still worries about what could happen in the long run. Against San Jose, they were outshot 50-30 and allowed six power play opportunities. Things improved against Vancouver, but it became the same story line, scoring first, but allowed two quick goals in the second period to give up the lead. While they have been collapsing quickly, the Coyotes know their faults and have corrected them quickly in games.
“We put ourselves in a hole with the penalties we took,” Tippett said after a victory against San Jose. “There were too many turnovers that gave them too many chances.”
In the NHL sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. With Phoenix, a lot of their quality wins have come from solid talent. Radim Vrbata has been quiet recently but had an explosive October scoring five times and earning six assists. Martin Hanzal and Mikkel Boedker have also made their presence known, each scoring three times and been a threat on the defensive end. Their biggest addition, Mike Ribeiro, needed just a few games to get used to the spotlight. After starting the season slow, he logged in nine points in seven games, five of which were wins.
In the defensive front, three players have become more three-dimensional. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Keith Yandle, and Derek Morris are 4th, 5th, and 6th respectively in defensive scoring. Not only that, with preserving leads, they have allowed three third period goals since their last loss against Los Angeles on the road.
The Coyotes have won five straight, two in shut outs. It will be hard to determine where the direction will lead considering how they are winning hockey games. One thing they can credit to their high performance has been their new ownership. George Gosbee, co-owner of the Coyotes, has become more than just the right hand man. Gosbee has been a part of their road trips, understanding the chemistry of the team, and getting a feel of what the NHL has been all about.
“We’ve been so busy on the non-hockey ops, and it’s like we haven’t really had time to enjoy how well the Coyotes are playing,” Gosbee told the Arizona Republic. “We’ve been busy, but we’re happy with how everything’s gone. Everything that we were hoping would work, everything’s working better than expectations.”
The success is there, but now with one month in, it is still too hard to assess how the Coyotes have been playing so far. They have played this well early in the season before, but their only records above .500 are October and April. They start off November with two wins thus far, but another solid month could put the team into talks of being the team to beat.
News and Notes
Phoenix signed free-agent Tyler Gaudet to a three-year entry level contract. Gaudet recorded 10 goals and 12 assists in 16 games with Sault St. Marie, good for second on the team….On Saturday, Tippett earned his 166th win as a Coyote, exceeding Bob Francis for most wins as a head coach in franchise history.