Losing to the San Jose Sharks 3-1 dropped the Desert Dogs from a tie for second to fourth place in the tight Pacific Division. They came out flat, and weren't generating enough scoring chances.
So What Happened?
San Jose, on the other hand came ready to play. They increased their road win record to a dominating 16-6-2, pretty impressive. That would not be a word to describe how the Coyotes played in a game which should have motivated them to stay competitive in the standings, and in a playoff spot.
Throw in that there were pre-game ceremonies celebrating Captain Shane Doan's 380th career goal as a Coyote, and the team should have had more motivation than what was displayed.
It seems that the big issue is a sputtering offense, and a defense, which while being adequate, is not moving the puck out of their zone very well at all. How do you spell MISSING KEITH YANDLE?
Scoring just four goals in their last four games, and accumulating just one point is not a formula for success in gaining a playoff berth. The fact that they had a seven game home-stand to perhaps catapult themselves above the others in the Pacific Division has not come to fruition.
To Draw an Analogy
They have actually fallen from fifth in the Wild Card race to tenth. Of course, the division is very tightly contested, and there is plenty of time to right the ship. Speaking of ships... there is no reason to panic at this point. This reminds this writer of the famous lines of the Gordon Lightfoot song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."
"When suppertime came, the old cook came on deck sayin'
Fellas, it's too rough to feed ya
At seven pm a main hatchway caved in, he said
Fellas, it's been good t'know ya
The captain wired in he had water comin' in
And the good ship and crew was in peril
And later that night when his lights went outta sight
Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."
Let's just say there's a slow leak in the hull right now, and while not dangerous, if not addressed shortly it could be hazardous to their playoff aspirations.
The Tough Get Tougher
As in all professional sports just because a team is having a bit of a hard time doesn't mean things get easier. To the contrary, they get more difficult, and then your confidence can start slipping... and then you could be sinking quickly.
The Arizona Coyotes must face the Los Angeles Kings next tomorrow night and the fact that when the Kings lost twice recently, and the Coyotes gained no ground, this game carries more magnitude than the Sharks game did. The team has can finish off this home-stand in a respectable fashion at 3-3-1, if they start playing up to their capabilities.
So Who Can Rescue the Sinking Ship?
It has to be Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who else? When the team needs a clutch goal, who steps up? When things are not going as planned, who scores an overtime goal, and gets the team's spirits soaring again?
This writer is not even sure that OEL can right the ship himself, but he's going to be one of the ship-mates grabbing a bucket to free the sinking ship of water, and pure destruction.
It would be exceptional if he got some help.