By now, everyone has seen or heard the outcome of Game 3 of the best of seven series between the Phoenix Coyotes and the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings now take a commanding 3-0 series lead after defeating the Phoenix Coyotes Monday night in Glendale, Ariz. by a score of 4-2.
Since many people do not follow the Phoenix Coyotes on a regular basis, here are some of the reasons why the Phoenix Coyotes are down three games to none in the series. I should note that I am not taking anything away from the way the Red Wings have dominated this series. I am focusing solely on why the Coyotes are in the hole that they are in right now.
Here’s seven reasons why the Phoenix Coyotes are down, 3-0, in the playoffs:
Ilya Bryzgalov is overworked – Many pundits point to Phoenix goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov as the key to the Coyotes’ success or failure in this series. To a certain extent, they are correct. However, after Game 3 on Monday night it is clear that the Coyotes overworked him in the regular season, giving him 39 of the last 42 starts in net (including the playoffs). His record in April (again, including playoffs) is 1-4-2.
Following Game 3 when head coach Dave Tippett was asked how Bryzgalov has played in this series Tippett said “Just all right.”
Keith Yandle not a factor – A player that once was a leader in the Norris Trophy race has not really had an impact in the playoffs as people were expecting. Sure, Yandle has scored four points in this series, but his minus-3 rating, as well as not being a force on the power play, stands out more than any points he can score in this series. The Red Wings have not been giving him much room to do anything in the Coyotes’ offensive zone, pressuring him every time he touches the puck.
Depth players for the Coyotes not a factor – This year’s Coyotes team was built to provide scoring across all four lines. Shane Doan became the Coyotes’ only 20-goal scorer with just a few games left in the season. The majority of the Coyotes’ depth has been a non-factor in this series.
Phoenix is a tired team – The Coyotes have had one of the toughest and most grueling NHL regular seasons in franchise history. Aside from all the ownership related matters that went on off the ice, here’s some of the items to factor into the team you have seen on the ice this post season.
– Phoenix went 1-3-1 during an East Coast road trip in December.
– A stretch of games from the end of the Christmas Break to the All-Star Break where the Coyotes played 17 games across multiple time zones, and no more than one day off between games (used mostly to travel). This stretch of games between Dec. 26, 2010 and Jan. 26, 2011 took a huge toll on the team and their overall compete level for the remainder of the season.
– For the first part of the season, Phoenix relied heavily on their top four defensemen in Keith Yandle, Derek Morris, Ed Jovanovski and Adrian Aucoin. These four – until defensemen Rostislav Klesla and Michal Rozsival were acquired – shared most of the defensive load and slowly wore down during the regular season. What people see during this series with the Red Wings is the effects of the early season load the Coyotes’ defensive corps shouldered.
The Coyotes are getting outcoached – This is probably the one area that the Red Wings are excelling in right now. The Coyotes’ offensive zone play and transition game has been picked apart by Detroit for three straight games now, and it’s a simple matter of the Red Wings making adjustments quicker and more accurate than Phoenix has been doing. The Red Wings have been anticipating passes, cutting down shooting lanes and minimizing good scoring chances.
Lack of discipline – The lack of team discipline in all three zones has been a bad habit and a theme of the Coyotes for most of the regular season and has now come back to haunt them. Sure, the occasional mistake can happen. However, it is the fact that the Coyotes have not learned from these mistakes during the regular season that is costing them now.
Playoff Experience – The Red Wings have it and the Coyotes do not. It is as simple as that. The Red Wings’ performance in this series has become a sometimes painful lesson for the Phoenix on what kind of game it needs to bring to the table in the playoffs.
“We’ve got a veteran team, we’ve been through these things before” said Detroit head coach Mike Babcock following Game 3.
At this point in the series I don’t think the Coyotes can say the same thing now, can they?