Monday Morning Howl: Coyotes’ Season Slipping Away?

Last Monday, the Arizona Coyotes kicked off a five-game homestand against the Calgary Flames and allowed three power play goals in what became a 4-2 loss.

The Edmonton Oilers then came to Gila River Arena on Wednesday and were able to defeat the Coyotes in regulation by the score of 3-2. Edmonton’s victory snapped Arizona’s 25-game point streak against their division rival.

The Coyotes then hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday looking to salvage a win out of the week but were burned by Scottsdale native Auston Matthews as they lost by the score of 4-1 in their last game before the league’s holiday break.

A Much Needed Break

Following their holiday break, the Coyotes will resume their homestand against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday. Following a conference semi-finals appearance last season, Lindy Ruff’s squad has struggled so far in 2016-17; they’ve allowed 106 goals in 35 games and sit six points out of a playoff spot in the Central Division. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 P.M. in Glendale.

The Coyotes will wrap up their five-game homestand on Thursday at Gila River Arena against the New York Rangers. Since defeating the Rangers on Opening Night of the 2013-14 season, the Coyotes have dropped six consecutive games to the Blueshirts. They’ll undoubtedly be looking to break that streak on Thursday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 P.M. in Glendale.

Arizona’s final game of the week will come on Saturday night in Calgary. The Coyotes have dropped all three of their games against the Flames this season and will be looking to snap their losing streak against their division rival on New Year’s Eve. Puck drop is scheduled for 8:00 P.M. in Calgary.

Doan’s Historic Night

Shane Doan has had a bit of a rough season so far, but he reached two significant milestones on Friday night. The Captain skated in his 1,500th career game and became just the sixth player to participate in 1,500 NHL games with the same franchise. However, Captain Coyote wasn’t satisfied with just the one milestone; he recorded his 400th career NHL goal late in the second period and became just the 93rd player to reach that mark.

It’s likely that Doan expected to have reached the 400-goal mark much earlier in the season, but, nevertheless, it was a bright moment in what’s otherwise been a down season for the Captain.

Vrbata Not Holding Back

Although the Coyotes have struggled badly on offense as a team since the injury to Max Domi, one player who has continued to produce results is 35-year-old veteran Radim Vrbata. Vrbata leads the team in goals, assists, points, and shots on goal, and is on pace for yet another 20-goal season.

Vrbata has been successful this season despite a low shooting percentage of just 7.5%, which is below his career average of 9.2%. If Vrbata’s shooting percentage normalizes over the course of the year, the veteran could potentially score 30 goals for the second time in three seasons.

Pacific Division Roundup

The Sharks are 7-3-0 in their last ten and have a solid hold on first place in the Pacific Division at the holiday break. Here’s how Arizona’s other division rivals fared last week:

Anaheim Ducks (17-12-6, 40 points)

  • Last week: 1-1-1
  • Analysis: Although the Ducks earned just three out of a possible six points last week, they’re likely happy with the result considering the fact that they played three games in four nights in three different Canadian cities. They’ll return home on Tuesday and will play six of their next eight at the Honda Center.
  • Player of the week: John Gibson – 1-0-1 record, 49 saves on 53 shots (.925 SV%)
  • This week: Tue vs SJ, Thu at CGY, Fri at VAN, Sun vs PHI

Calgary Flames (18-16-2, 38 points)

  • Last week: 2-1-0
  • Analysis: It appears as if Brian Elliott may have gotten things figured out in Calgary; he’s won his last two starts and has a .926 SV% over his last four games overall. His team made it easy for him on Friday night in Vancouver; Elliott faced just 14 shots and stopped 13 of them in Calgary’s 4-1 victory.
  • Player of the week: Mikael Backlund – 2 goals, 2 assists, +1, 11 shots
  • This week: Tue at COL, Thu vs ANA, Sat vs AZ

Edmonton Oilers (18-12-6, 42 points)

  • Last week: 2-0-1
  • Analysis: The Oilers have points in four straight and have entered the holiday break in playoff position for the first time in recent memory. It’ll be interesting to see if this year’s edition of the Oilers have what it takes to end the franchise’s decade-long playoff drought.
  • Player of the week: Mark Letestu — Goal, 2 assists, +2
  • This week: Thu vs LA, Sat vs VAN

Los Angeles Kings (17-13-4, 38 points)

  • Last week: 1-0-2
  • Analysis: The Kings have two more games remaining in their season-long nine-game road trip, and will return home to the friendly confines of the Staples Center on New Year’s Eve against the San Jose Sharks.
  • Player of the week: Jeff Carter – 5 goals
  • This week: Wed at VAN, Thu at EDM, Sat vs SJ

San Jose Sharks (21-12-1, 43 points)

  • Last week: 2-0-0
  • Analysis: San Jose returned home from a four-game road trip last week and swept both games of their short homestand at the Shark Tank.
  • Player of the week: Joe Pavelski – Goal, 3 assists, +3, 8 shots
  • This week: Tue at ANA, Fri vs PHI, Sat at LA

Vancouver Canucks (14-18-3, 31 points)

  • Last week: 1-2-0
  • Analysis: All three of Vancouver’s games ended with a score of 4-1 last week, but, unfortunately for the Canucks, they came out on top in just one of those contests. Consistency continues to be a problem for Willie Desjardin’s squad this season.
  • Player of the week: Jacob Markstrom – 1-1-0 record, 64 saves on 68 shots (.941 SV%)
  • This week: Wed vs LA, Fri vs ANA, Sat at EDM

The Coyotes dropped all three of their games last week and will need to significantly improve their play if they wish to salvage any of the games on their current homestand. They can start by figuring out how to put the biscuit in the basket.