The Coyotes have been shut out in two successive road losses while giving up 7 goals. Does that mean there’s something basically wrong with the team?
The Arizona Coyotes just returned from a cross-country road trip and played 3 games in 4 nights. They beat a very strong Florida Panthers‘ team on Tuesday night, and were then shut out by an amazingly talented Tampa Bay Lightning team (that may very well go deep into the playoffs) 4 to 0 on Thursday, facing a hot goalkeeper in Andrei Vasilevskiy. The next night, the fatigued Arizona boys went to Raleigh and were shut out again, 3 to 0, while facing solid netminder Petr Mrazek.
Do the two losses signify any inherent problems with the team? I think not. Merely traveling is an energy sapper, and playing so many games in succession for any team takes its toll physically, emotionally, and mentally.
The physical toll the game takes itself is significant. Absorbing hits night after night has a cumulative effect, and NHL players routinely play with injuries knowing that it’s in their “code,” their DNA. Letting their teammates down is inexcusable and out of the question. Hockey players are, and always have been, warriors, and they don’t like to leave their comrades behind to battle alone.
When a body is banged up, nagging injuries can eventually lead to more significant problems. When a player adjusts any part of his physical game’s repertoire to alleviate pain in one area, his body can be susceptible to other pain or an injury in another part of the body. Because of their toughness and willingness to compete while injured, however, sometimes the men return to the ice much sooner than they should.
More from Howlin' Hockey
Every NHL team experiences the highs and lows of a lengthy 82-game regular season and anticipates injuries that seem to happen at precisely the wrong time for their club. Whether losses are indicative of downward trends or more significant problems cannot be determined via a small sample size.
The Coyotes had their recent losing streak, and some fans thought the sky was falling. Immediately thereafter, the desert dogs rode an impressive 4-game winning streak. As of yesterday, we’ve been bummed out because the Coyotes not only lost two successive games, but didn’t score, even with all the firepower on their roster. What’s wrong? Not much.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong that some rest and a bit of practice can’t rectify. The Coyotes are back home, Niklas Hjalmarsson is close to returning, and we have one of the league’s best goalkeeping tandems nearing complete recoveries.
I recommend that we all take a deep breath and think about where this franchise has been and where it is now. Let’s enjoy the fact that the Arizona Coyotes are a strong organization, and that we are blessed to witness and be a part of it. Let’s focus on the journey now, and not worry about anything else. We’ll be fine. Let’s go Coyotes!