The Arizona Coyotes’ Jekyll and Hyde style of hockey reared its ugly head again last night in a 5 to 3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Coyotes seemed to be rolling fairly well during the first period of their game against the Carolina Hurricanes, and I’m sure they went into the first intermission feeling pretty confident and pleased with their efforts. Hockey rules require, however, that teams return to the ice for second and third periods, and the second stanza was not a pleasant one for the Coyotes.
In fact, fans probably wondered if the group of players that left the ice after twenty minutes were the same folks that appeared for period two. The ‘Yotes had a two-goal lead early in the second, but before you could say “Let’s go Coyotes,” they had given up four unanswered goals! Wait, what?
The Coyotes’ tendency to play inconsistent hockey is amazing, not in a good way, and it results in fans never really being able to feel comfortable with or confident about the game’s final result. Is the ability to focus for an entire sixty minutes so difficult that there are wide swings between laser-like focus to sloppy inattention several times in the same game?
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I’ve always found it interesting how an entire group of players could go from sharp-as-a-tack proficiency to woeful ineptitude at the same time in the same game in team sports. Quite an interesting phenomenon and it was evident at Gila River Arena on Thursday night.
The Hurricanes played consistent hockey and weathered the storm in the first period, and then with impressive precision, took the Coyotes apart without much fanfare by scoring four unanswered goals. Early on, the ‘Yotes seemed to be carrying their momentum over from the win against Edmonton on Tuesday night, but that delusion only lasted until about four minutes into the second period.
If the Coyotes expect to compete for a playoff spot, they’re going to have rid themselves of the tendency to shape-shift during a game. Playing disciplined and focused hockey for 90+ minutes is necessary to win games in the regular season, much less in the playoffs.
It was disturbing, but not surprising, to see the same small group of players making the plays to keep the Coyotes competitive last night. As we approach a critical road trip beginning with a visit to Boston, the Coyotes are going to need contributions from everyone. There are too many “passengers” right now, including some high profile players that we thought were going to be difference makers.
Let’s hope that there are no players just along for the ride during this critical road trip and that the Desert Dogs return as entertaining as ever. Let’s go Coyotes!