The Avalanche played the Coyote way. Score first, tough forecheck, keep the opponent chasing the game. Even with Matt Duchene only playing three shifts due to an injury, Colorado seemed to be around the Coyote net the entire first period. Coach Tippett asked each player to contribute more. That is a good way to say you are not playing up to your potential and if you expect to continue to get ice time, play better. Do the little things like tape to tape passes, control the puck in the neutral zone, no blind passes, keep your feet moving on defense. Do not stand flat-footed.
The usual keys to the game that the Coyotes need to play if they want to win. As the score shows, they didn’t.
- Score first. No. Colorado got the first goal. Former Coyote and Hobey Baker award winner Kevin Porter got it started. Last year’s Hobey Baker award winner and current Coyote didn’t get on the board.
- Control the neutral zone. They did after the first period.
- Pucks on net. Shots from the outside can be deflected or yield a rebound. Rebounds are our friends. There were 12 total shots after the second period. Unacceptable.
- Power play. Another night where the Coyotes PK shut down the opposition. And another night when their PP was shut down.
Area for Improvement
- The failure to gain entry into the offensive zone while on the PP is a problem. With Martin Hanzal and Boyd Gordon out, the face off beast was Daymond Langkow. Kyle Chipchura was also very good, but on the PP, the face off is the key. When the puck was cleared and Phoenix had to go 200 feet, they just could not get the puck into the offensive zone and control it. No cycle, no cross slot slot for a Doan one-timer. The Coyotes were baffled by the new trend of the PK. Stand four on the blue line and prevent the puck from being carried across the blue line. So, either the boys have to get better at the chip and chase, or find someone who can stickhandle like Jagr in his prime.
- Defensive zone clears. When Colorado, or any other team this year, is on the PP, the Coyotes will get a stick on the puck and attempt to clear it out of the zone. And it doesn’t happen. Glass is your friend. Let’s use it. Another friend is the center of the ice. Lift the puck may be a nice way to accomplish the goal.
- Taylor Pyatt was a machine on the boards, digging the pucks out around the boards and letting Mikkel Boedker get the glory. Twice.
- Rafi Torres. Making the big hit. The Avs were concentrating on him and punishing him in the third period. This allowed the Coyotes to play four on two or three as Torres pulled at least two skaters to him every time he touched the puck.
- Kyle Chipchura was playing like a guy who wants to stay in the NHL. Good on the face off, being a fourth line grinder, strong forecheck.
- Secondary Contribution. This means the third and fourth line needs to contribute on the scoreboard. Monday, Rafi got two goals. Thursday, Boeds got two. That was the scoring for these two games. The secondary lines are doing their jobs. The top lines were represented by Ray Whitney’s lone goal on Wed vs. the Bruins.
- Goaltending. Jason had two strong games. He didn’t let in a soft goal and kept the Coyotes in the game. What he needs to do is reduce his playing the puck. Two times last night in the third period he went behind the goal to play the puck. He turned it over both times. Luckily, there was an alert D-man there to keep the puck out of the net.
Saturday, the boys will visit the Wild. Hopefully Santa’s Little Helpers will restart their recent eight game losing streak and last night’s win over the Oilers was an anomaly. It is a 4pm AZ time game and is on Fox Sports Arizona Plus. Vegas has not established a betting line at time of this publication.