The Coyotes finished their string of games against Pacific Division opponents by playing and losing to the red-hot San Jose Sharks at Gila River Arena on Saturday night.
Was that a weird game or what? My how fans’ emotions can change during a game, evidently just like momentum can swing for the NHL players!
The first three minutes of the first period were brilliant for the Arizona Coyotes (15-9-4, 34 points), as they scored two great goals on unselfish passing by and to open teammates. Just like you would draw it up, I’d say 1) if you knew how and 2) were so inclined because 3) the laundry wasn’t dry yet.
Anyway, Coyotes fans were at least temporarily ecstatic, not necessarily believing what had just occurred right before their very eyes. After all, it’s usually the opponents that score early in games and/or periods.
Unfortunately for the desert dogs, the talent-laden and vastly-experienced San Jose Sharks (15-12-1, 31 points) didn’t panic and chipped away at the 2 to 0 deficit. In doing so, goalkeeper Martin Jones survived the early game onslaught, settled down, and played very well in shutting down the ‘Yotes for the remainder of the tilt. Darn it!
That’s right hockey enthusiasts, the remaining 57 minutes of the game were pretty frustrating for Coyotes fans and pretty doggone satisfying for the Sharks fans in attendance. Or anywhere else on the planet for that matter.
The Coyotes did a lot of things right in the game, meaning that they played their disciplined style of hockey for long stretches, especially in their “O” zone. There was plenty of cycling down low, causing the Sharks some defensive problems. The Coyotes had plenty of high quality scoring chances throughout, including two or three more “Grade A” chances shortly after their second (and final) goal of the game.
There were times, however, when the Coyotes players took some shots later in the game that were perhaps too selfish rather than the players lifting their heads up to assess the ice for better-positioned teammates.
At times the ‘Yotes played some effective defense too, while at other times they couldn’t seem to dispossess the Sharks’ attackers of the puck. They looked disorganized late in the game, and I had that gnawing feeling that the sustained pressure by the Sharks in the Coyotes’ “D” zone was destined to result in a game-winning goal. Sure enough, it did, but I didn’t want to be right. Honestly.
The Coyotes’ power play was ineffective, so much so that the boo birds began chirping loudly to express their displeasure late in the game when the Coyotes were having trouble even entering the “O” zone with the puck.
All in all, it was a disappointing result in the last home game prior to leaving on a four-game road trip, but there was enough of the “Coyote style” of hockey on Saturday night to hope for positives while the ‘Yotes play for its TV and radio audiences. The Coyotes begin in Columbus, Ohio against the Blue Jackets (11-11-4, 26 points) on Tuesday evening.
Let’s go Coyotes!