The slow-starting, inattentive “lipstick on a pig” Arizona Coyotes gifted their game to the San Jose Sharks on Monday night, 6 to 4.
Was that ugly or what? The Arizona Coyotes knew, on a night when the St. Louis Blues won their second straight game against the Colorado Avalanche earlier in the day, they needed to beat the San Jose Sharks to leapfrog the Blues in order to regain 4th place and the playoff spot.
Because of those high stakes, Yotes fans could reasonably expect a solid effort in San Jose right from the beginning of the game. Nope, it didn’t happen. Instead, just 17 seconds into the first period, the unfocused, unprepared Desert Dogs relinquished their first goal to the Sharks’ Noah Gregor, and then the Sharks scored another quick goal on a shot by defenseman Brent Burns only 3:07 into the first frame.
Is it too much for fans to ask for a “guns ablazing” start to a meaningful game? The Yotes fumbled around the ice like they were in a fog and had one shot in the first 11 minutes of the contest. They had a whopping 7 shots at the end of the period while the Sharks, who had lost their previous 8 games, had 8 shots (and 4 goals)!
The Coyotes actually had a power play opportunity in the first period, but we won’t talk too much about that two minutes of underwhelming hockey because it was basically a pathetic exercise in futility. The Coyotes lack of shots was inexplicable, as they were facing Sharks rookie goalkeeper Josef Korenar, not Martin Jones, yet they didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to pepper the young man at all.
Fans hoped that the stink the Coyotes created as they left the ice would dissipate fast enough to give them a fresh opportunity to take control of such an important game. Well, that didn’t happen, and the stench continued to waft over the Coyotes bench a bit longer. At 1:54 into the second period, Logan Couture scored on a rebound, and just 3:19 into the period, defenseman Erik Karlsson scored. That goal resulted in an early shower for Darcy Kuemper, who was mercifully replaced in net by Adin Hill.
There were six more goals scored after the first period, including tallies by Michael Bunting and Clayton Keller in the second and two by stalwart defenseman Jakob Chychrun in the third. Try as they may though, the Coyotes were nevertheless doomed by the mess they created early in this game. It was certainly an odd contest from the start, with plenty of twists and turns during the course of its sixty minutes (which actually seemed like an eternity to complete), but when it was all over it left Coyotes fans shaking their heads in disbelief. It takes a lot of gumption to be a loyal Yotes fan, as they’ve been through a lot of discouraging scenarios over the years, but this loss in particular was a solid punch to the gut.
The newfound confidence and momentum of the St. Louis Blues now sits in stark contrast to the mindset and play of the Arizona Coyotes. If the Desert Dogs could bottle up and use the grit, pride, and other intangibles possessed by the storied Blue Notes, they’d be a heck of a lot better team. Woulda, coulda, shoulda.
It is evident now that the team most likely to grab the 4th playoff spot in the Honda West Division, and deservedly so, is the St. Louis Blues. The rest are imposters and not worthy of the playoffs yet.
Let’s hope what the Blues are achieving now (with a host of NHL-quality players) somehow rubs off on the dismal Coyotes organization, and the sooner the better. I’m sure General Manager Bill Armstrong has been taking notes, and that’s a good thing. Let’s go Coyotes!