After an explosive start, the Arizona Coyotes are now wondering how to begin recovery after not only finishing their east coast road trip with five out of a possible ten points, but also slow down opposition from scoring at will.
In the last two games (Boston and Vancouver) they have allowed 10 goals. What’s worse is that it took the Coyotes giving up nine goals before Max Domi ended the scoreless streak in the second period against the Canucks.
“It’s tough in this league when you trail by three early, you put yourself in a tough spot,” Antoine Vermette said, who was also injured on the loss to Boston. “You can say we battled, but that’s not the way you want to start the game.”
So what can you make from the Coyotes sluggish performance recently? As expected, Max Domi and Anthony Duclair lead the team in goals with five each. With rookie Tobias Rieder also having four goals as well, this makes up for just over a third of the scoring the Coyotes have gotten. Mikkel Boedker is the only veteran with four goals, and just three other players have two goals on the year. All in all, the offensive production has begun to lack a bit slightly, and the dependence on its young players may be a bit too much for them to expect.
“We talked about growing,” head coach Dave Tippett said. “We know there’s going to be hiccups. Let’s not sugarcoat this. There’s going to be hiccups, but if you look at the start our kids have had, there are games we’ve played very well in and that’s encouraging.”
And that is very true. The only worry now is how much more this becomes an immediate trend. Starting out strong has been the Coyotes Achilles heel last season, and the fear is that that mindset comes back to haunt them.
The other fear how much Mike Smith has now begun to take a small downward spiral. He was in front of the goal in the back to back losses, and against Vancouver Tippett had enough and took him out after allowing two goals on the first three shots. It gave him a realization that going back to his old ways just can’t happen anymore.
“I strive to be a perfectionist and when things don’t go as I think they should, it’s always frustrating,” Smith asid. “But as you get older you mature more and you find out the more you dwell on it the harder it is to get out of the situation. I’ve worked on the mental side of it a lot the last couple years and I feel I have a good handle on it.”
Just about every week the Coyotes reflect on how much they have done to either change their ways or continue their success. Right now sitting in third in the Pacific Division, and although it is early, the Coyotes have done at the very least enough to hang around. And it seems like every week they either are dwelling on a rough outing, or are ecstatic on playing a complete game. Right now the Coyotes are still lacking a bit of consistency, which unfortunately has been the ongoing trend for years.
“We’re sitting at .500 and usually that’s not good enough,” Vermette said. “You can say we had a tough schedule right off the bat but you’ve got to find a way.”
October is now over. With the season well underway, the Coyotes will have a few days off before they face Colorado. Not really looking ahead, the hope is now trying to get back that spark they got from the beginning, because right now things are looking quite grim.
“It’s miserable losing,” Tippett said. “Until you can win again, it’s miserable.”