With one of the worst records in the NHL, Arizona general manager Don Maloney tried to jump-start his woeful team with a plethora of changes..
Last Friday, Maloney announced the Coyotes traded Ron Klimhammer to the Penguins, put Kyle Chipchura on waivers, demoted David Schlemko to the minors and recalled defenseman Andrew Campbell and forward Jordan Martinook from AHL Portland. Plus, coach Dave Tippett juggled his lines for Saturday’s home game with the Boston Bruins and tried to give his team the best opportunity to break out of protracted slump.
Against Boston, the end result was the same as the previous month on home ice, and proved the changes were simply cosmetic and not substantive. Aside from ignoring fundamentals, the Coyotes continue to play undisciplined hockey and give the puck away too many times. In the 5-2 loss to the Bruins Saturday before a less than-enthusiastic 13,114 in Gila River Arena, the start was all too familiar.
Less than one minute into the game, Arizona forward Brandon McMillian gave the puck away in the neutral zone to Dougie Hamilton. Eventually, Brad Marchand’s wrist shot eluded Devan Dubnyk and the Bruins continued to apply misery at 58 seconds.
A second giveaway from behind the Coyotes’s net transformed another critical error into defenseman Kevan Miller’s first of the season exactly five minutes later and the abyss was drawn deeper.
The defeat was the seventh straight at home for Arizona, and the longest losing streak at home since the Coyotes moved from Winnipeg to start the 1996-97 season. The Coyotes have not won at home since Nov. 4 when they defeated Toronto 3-2.
“When you’re chasing games, things like this happen,” said defenseman Keith Yandle. “We just need a couple of bounces to go our way. If we’re getting out of this, we need to do so as group. No one is pointing fingers and this is a really close team. We need to come out of this as a group.”
Of minor consolation, the Coyotes did score a goal at home, their first in 185:34. That was when Joe Vitale squeezed a wrist shot over Tuukka Rask’s right shoulder and under the cross bar for his third of the season at 13:11 of the opening period. From that point, the Bruins scored the next three goals and had their highest road production of the season. Previously, the Bruins scored five goals in a game but that was home on Nov. 6 in a 5-2 victory over Edmonton.
aggressive play needed
As their woes persist, the Coyotes seem to be failing in two critical areas.
First, their collective mind-set needs to be tougher. During the current losing streak, Tippett continues to say the Coyotes play too much of the game in their own end. While players conceded the effort was there against the Bruins, the execution must end in results.
All of which leads to the second factor and this team desperately needs to find fore-checkers who are willing to bang bodies and create opportunities in the offensive end.
In a larger sense, the Coyotes have too many passengers and no one is driving the bus.
“If any one steps forward and takes control, I’m all of for it,” Tippett said. “So far, we haven’t have any consistency in our goaltenders and some one needs to step up.”
Now, the Coyotes continue to lump along without execution.
While players like to expound on their close-knit bonding and the extol a strong effort on the ice, the results are clearly missing. Sinking further behind and perhaps beyond in the Western Conference has a created a great sense of urgency. At this point, it’s not certain how the Coyotes will respond to their current state of affairs.
Changes are cosmetic, not substantive.
Boston, first goal. traditional give-away
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.