The Coyotes’ inconsistent play at home continued on Saturday night and resulted in a New Jersey Devils’ 2 to 1 win at GRA.
The home-ice advantage pretty much evaporated once again at Gila River Arena on Saturday night as the Coyotes lost to a desperate New Jersey Devils team 2 to 1. In front of a large, boisterous crowd, the ‘Yotes managed to allow the Devils’ their first goal less than five minutes into the first period and, although the Coyotes eventually tied the game with a goal by defenseman Alex Goligoski, they couldn’t score again. To their credit, the Coyotes had plenty of chances to convert throughout the game, but they were stymied time and again and couldn’t light the lamp a second time to save their souls.
The view from Section 109 on Saturday looked as if there wasn’t much interest by the men in black in challenging the Devils for the puck. Normally it’s the Coyotes that’s the team that wastes little time in rushing the puck out of the “D” zone and into the “O” zone, but it was actually the Devils that forced the issue on Saturday night.
Even when killing power plays, the Devils tried to keep possession of the puck and skate forward in numbers rather than just sending the puck to the other end of the ice to relieve attacking pressure from the ‘Yotes. The desert dogs were on their heels trying to defend the quicker and more active Devils throughout. If the Devils were even a slightly better hockey team (or better yet had Taylor Hall on the ice) on Saturday, they probably would have won by a bigger margin because of their obvious aggressiveness and, in stark contrast, the Coyotes’ lethargic attempt to play any solid, effective hockey with requisite focus and with much enthusiasm.
What is evident, however, is that the Coyotes may not know how to handle their on-ice success at home. Why is that? If they can handle being one of the better teams in the entire NHL on the road, what’s the malfunction when playing at home? After an impressive win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday, the Coyotes played a “stinker” of a game in a lackluster performance that surely didn’t reflect well on them as allegedly being one of the Western Conference’s top teams.
I’m sure that the “Jekyll and Hyde” routine is frustrating for the Coyotes and their fans alike, as no one really knows which iteration of the team will appear on the ice each game and what type of effort they’ll put forth. In the interim, let’s hope that the Coyotes continue to be relevant by winning their road games and eventually figuring out how to massage and manipulate their collective psyche to improve their fortunes at home.
Let’s go Coyotes!