Just when you thought the Arizona Coyotes were going to get out of their five game losing streak funk Martin Hanzal decided to take a bone-head penalty and ruined the results.
In the game against the New York Rangers, the penalty he took at 13:41 of the third period gave the powerful Rangers another power play and at 14:40 the New York team took a 4-3 lead and never looked back scoring two more goals to embarrass the Coyotes 6-3.
Head Coach Dave Tippett was fairly harsh as he described the Hanzal penalty. "We battled back to get it 3-3," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "The Hanzal (holding) penalty is just a poor, poor penalty. Poor judgment ... for us to do a better job on the penalty kill, we have to do less penalty killing."
Giving up five power play goals is what really killed any chances of the Coyotes making a comeback. And, comebacks have been few and far between thus far this season.
Ending a five-game home-stand without even gaining a point is beginning to wear the team's confidence level to the extreme. Things didn't improve on New Year's Eve as the Yotes traveled to Calgary and gave up four first period goals, including two more power play tallies to get reamed again 4-2, and extended their losing ways to seven straight games.
Smitty just lost it
Goalie Mike Smith after trying to brawl with a couple of Dallas Stars players in the previous home game, was at his limits when the Rangers' Matt Puempel scored his third goal of the game on a close in deflection with just 17 seconds remaining.
He was so infuriated that he attempted to break his stick on the left goal post only to not succeed, but tried again and shattered the goalie stick to relieve his anguish and frustration.
It's quite apparent that Smith has been playing his heart out with little or no support from his defense and the offense has just gone south. Prior to the Rangers' game the team had just eight goals in five games.
There's not too many NHL teams who can score 1.6 goals a game and expect to win.
Then, in the Flames game Louis Domingue was summoned to give Smith a cooling off period, only to get pummeled with four goals. Head Coach Dave Tippett decided to just stay with Domingue rather than put Smith in for more punishment.
Veteran Martin Hanzal has been the subject of trade rumors since before the season began, and now with this latest lack of discipline he may be gone for sure.
He has the team's worst +/- statistic with a -16. His Corsi percentage at even strength is 47.4. His face-off win percentage is excellent at 54.3, but his injuries have really been what has kept him from becoming a really good, consistent NHL player.
Hanzal and Stone could be sent packing
Who could the Coyotes get in return for Hanzal? Could he be packaged with another player like defenseman Michael Stone?
There are plenty of teams who could be interested in both players as they begin their second half playoff run. The way the Coyotes are playing of late with a horrible 3-11-2 record this month, their playoff hopes are diminishing quickly, if not gone completely.
Both Hanzal and Stone will be unrestricted free agents at the conclusion of this season, and it seems likely if other teams present a good deal to help the Coyotes move forward, they may be gone.
The problem with Hanzal has always been his inability to stay healthy. Not including this season where he has missed five games due to injury, he has only averaged 61 games a season. That means he is injured over 25 per cent of the time.
Due to his style of play and the fact that he gets lined up against the other large NHL centers, he is injury prone. For this reason, it may be difficult to move him.
But, he is a huge player at 6' 6", 226 pounds and many teams would like his physical presence as well as his face-off expertise and defensive prowess.
The time for action is now
Something is in dire need of being done to help improve this team. Their losing streaks of four, five, and six games, along with the current seven-game downfall is just not acceptable, and undesirable to watch.
And, as in any professional sport, if the team is failing either the coach gets fired, or players get moved -- sometimes both.
It seems that the Arizona Coyotes want to stay the course with Dave Tippett, so that means players who are not performing need to be sent somewhere else.
According to an article by azsports.com Craig Morgan, firing Tippett may not be that easy.
"Tippett’s new role does raise questions. How long do he and GM John Chayka get before they must produce results? And if the results don’t come, how exactly would a 27-year-old GM who makes considerably less than him and brings considerably less experience to the table fire Tippett?"
If the Arizona Coyotes continue on the path they are currently traveling, they could possibly be worse than the 14-15 season, and that would be difficult to correct; it may also decrease their fanbase just when they want to increase it to justify their goal of building a new arena in the east valley.
Right now their only hope is to rid themselves of players who aren't performing for other players who are hungry to win.
The group they have now is just not doing the job.