So far, this season seems like a broken record.
After sparkling starts in several games here in the first third of the NHL season, the Arizona Coyotes seem to drop their guard, acquiesce into a shell, a coma or something more disastrous. In the second half of games, the Coyotes let teams back in contests and continue struggling to earn standing points.
Fast forward to Tuesday night at home and the roof, like a weighted bank of snow, crashed down and caused coach Dave Tippett and players to zip their lips and hide the obvious frustration. Watching a three-goal lead melt like a ice cream cone in the searing desert sun, the Coyotes had to settle for one standing point and watch the visiting Colorado Avalanche skate off with a 4-3, overtime victory before 12,163 in Gila River Arena.
The loss exposed a weakness which plagued the Coyotes through the opening weeks of the season. Simply, this team has great difficulty playing with a lead and cannot find ways to put opponents away.
When rookie Tobias Rieder, who scored the third goal mid-way through the opening period, told reporters after the game “it’s not happening for us right now,” that may have answered the million-dollar question.
After Gabriel Landeskog popped in his second of the game to bring Colorado to within one, Matt Duchene tied the game 2:31 later in the third period and set up the overtime session.
In the extra period, the Coyotes exhibited many of the characteristics which doomed them in earlier games. Aggressive fore-checking stopped and the team, as a whole, waited back and let the Avs’ speed and stick handling ability dictate play. Overall, Arizona looked like a desperate team and chased the game.
“We were desperate to build on our lead,” Tippett said. “Yes, we were up 3-0 but I didn’t think we deserved to be up by three goals. In the final period and in overtime they executed better than we did.”
If the Coyotes could not regain the energy of the opening minutes, poor concentration and sloppy play added to their demise.
Take the overtime goal as a prime example.
In the Arizona end, Avs’ Danny Briere skated into the left face-off circle, turned and fired on net. The shot was neatly deflected past Coyotes’ goalie Mike Smith but off Martin Hanzal’s stick at 3:16 of the extra session.
“We ended up playing too much in our end,” said defenseman Michael Stone. “We have up too many chances around our net, and those pucks went in.”
Despite giving the visiting Avs two points, Arizona picked up one but in recent games, they are leaving too many points on the ice. In the highly competitive Western Conference, every point appears to be critical and the Coyotes apparently do not recognize that a rather severe state of urgency which now surround their fragile season.
“It does feel good leaving points out there,” Stone added. “It just doesn’t feel good when we go into the third period and blow leads.”
raising the value
After present owners IceArizona agreed to sell 51 percent of the franchise value to Philadelphia businessman Andrew Barrroway and create a favorable tax environment for George Gosbee and Anthony Le Blanc, the pair of Canadian investors which are the corporate face of the franchise, value of the Arizona franchise increased dramatically.
Now, Forbes Magazine has listed its annual account of what NHL franchises are worth in the open market and Gosbee and Le Blanc should be smiling.
When Gosbee and Le Blanc bought the franchise for a reported $175 million from the NHL in August, 2013, the franchise was valued as 29th in the league, At the time, only the St Louis Blues were valued less.
In its latest edition, Forbes now puts the Coyotes’ worth at $225 million, good for 27th in the league. That would represent a boost from the original NHL asking price and bring slight relief to Gosbee and Le Blanc and their intrepid investment.
Only Carolina (valued at $220M), Columbus ($200M) and Florida ($190M) are now valued lower by Forbes.
Among the teams valued the most by Forbes, three top the $1 billion threshold.
The Toronto Maple Leafs continue to be the most valued franchise in the NHL at $1.3B. The New York Rangers are valued by Forbes at $1.1B and the Montreal Canadiens’ value is placed by Forbes at an even $1B.
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.