With apologies to Sonny and Cher, the beat goes on.
Though this may not be proper grammar, and while the sentence ends in a preposition, there appears to be no end to the Arizona Coyotes lowly state of affairs.
The current drought in particularly tough on coach Dave Tippett, a proud man and sound coach who deserves a better fate. Mired in a deepening abyss, the Coyotes’ 5-1 loss to the Nashville Predators before 10,194, the smallest crowd of the year, in the Gila River Arena Thursday night, merely accentuated the desperate straights.
With the defeat, the Coyotes have now dropped eight straight at home and have not won on Gila River ice since they defeated he Leafs, 3-2 on Nov. 4.
While the misery deepens, feeble explanations, though heart-felt, seem to fill the vapid air of a quiet and unsure dressing room.
“We’re in the business of getting results,” said Antoine Vermette, who scored the Coyotes’ only goal at 4:11 of the opening period. “We talk about winning our shift and that’s not happening. Besides, when you give up five goals, there are too many break downs.”
After Vermette’s seven of the season, the Coyotes fell into their usual hole and surrendered five, unanswered goals to Nashville. If Vermette talks about living in a results-oriented world, production has been too few and far between.
With the loss to Nashville, the Coyotes have now dropped seven of their last eight games and out-scored 14-3 in the first three games of their current five-game home stand.
With 23 standing points for their 29 games to date, the Coyotes are rapidly falling off the radar screen. Only the Oilers, with 19 standing points, have fewer points.
“After you score the first goal, you have to keep fighting for the next one,” said defenseman Keith Yandle. “When you’re going through what we’re are right now, it’s mentally wearing. We just have to find ways to get better and win.”
For a man who amassed the most wins by a coach in the Winnipeg/Arizona franchise history, Tippett wears his emotions on his sleeves, Through this streak, he walks into the interview room, eyes wandering, hands deep in his pockets and words measured. Asked about the current state of affairs, his response was swift.
“Frustrating, disappointing,” he said. “We’re losing the one-on-one battles and that has to stop. Look, the players care about one another but until the frustration turns into mental resolve, the frustration will continue.”
If the results are not on the ice, the approach stays positive. While gloom envelops the dressing room, the players have no choice but to remain steadfast.
“It’s important for us to stick together,” said Sam Gagner, who has scored three goals in his 29 Arizona games to date. “When you’re down, you chase the game and that’s not our style. We can’t sink and need to push forward.”
After another day of practice on Friday, the Coyotes host Minnesota in the fourth game of the current set. That means the Wild skate into the desert with three, double-digit scorers, Zach Parise, Nino Niederreiter and Jason Tucker. While the Coyotes have no double-digit goal-scorer, they are among the worst defensive teams.
In their 29 games to date, they have allowed 95 goals and only Edmonton and Colorado have yielded more throughout the NHL.
Mark Brown is a former sports editor for daily newspapers in the Philadelphia and Cincinnati markets. He was named Best Sports Columnist, honorable mention 2004 by the Associated Press Society of Ohio. He is a contributor to major daily newspapers, including the Chicago Sun Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Milwaukee Journal, Arizona Republic, Nashville Tennessean and the Associated Press. He was a Featured Columnist for bleacherreport.com and covered the Arizona Coyotes.