The Arizona Coyotes looked more like their “old” selves last night, but it wasn’t nearly consistent enough to beat the Kings at GRA.
The Coyotes have lost two games in a row against what some hockey experts would call “easy” teams on their schedule. Oops. No such thing as a “gimme” date in Coyotes’ land.
Now the ‘Yotes face progressively stronger adversaries beginning with the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night. Unfortunately, they then host the talent-laden Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night and the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday. Yikes!
The familiar mantras of “we need to play better” and “thankfully there are plenty more games to play” are stale. It might as well say “this is a recording and thanks for watching” at the end of the interview because there’s no sign of passion when those statements are made.
Nevertheless, things are what they are, and the Coyotes showed a lot of good things on Thursday night in their stunning loss. There were more shots taken and more rebound chances. There was increased cycling through the Kings’ “D” zone and the ‘Yotes looked like they actually had energy and that a win was important to them.
Unfortunately, they didn’t pay enough attention to L.A.’s Alex Iafallo, who scored all three of the Kings’ goals, the last two (including the OT winner) within 3 and 1/2 minutes of one another.
Adin Hill played a solid game, and the Coyotes’ “D” men minimized the number of poor passes out of the zone. It was evident that the plan was to return to the defense-first mindset and build from the back, and there were a number of dangerous runs that were stymied by some good goalkeeping by L.A.’s Jack Campbell.
The Kings played an aggressive first period, but the ‘Yotes had pretty much the run of the play in the second period. Puck possession was pretty balanced in the final period until late, when the Kings started skating on their front feet, creating plenty of chances. It seemed only a matter of time that the Kings would score and, sure enough, they did so with just under 3 minutes left in the game. Ouch! Shortly thereafter, as in 24 seconds later, Alex Iafallo turned the ‘Yotes into toast, and that, my friends, was that.
Let’s hope that the “we can’t dwell on it” and “we played hard” comments somehow evolve into an even better game for the Coyotes on Saturday night against the Blackhawks. They’re going to need it to win and have a chance to stay relevant in February and beyond. Let’s go Coyotes!