Last night, to mark the first full week of the shortened NHL season, the Phoenix Coyotes hosted Pacific Division rivals and Cup winners the Los Angeles Kings. Inside Jobing.com Arena tempers flared as reminders of what transpired last spring came rushing back to Coyotes fans.
Before we recap the 4-2 loss to the Kings though, let’s look back at the games that proceeded last nights let-down in the Coyotes first week of 2013.
Sat, Jan 19th at Dallas- Whoever thought though Jaromir Jagr’s age might be getting the better of him was proved very wrong on this evening. No one felt the repercussions of this more than the Coyotes defense. The hockey legend notched two goals and added two assists, with the help veteran and former Coyote Ray Whitney, in the Dallas Stars‘ 4-3 win.
Sun, Jan 20th vs. Chicago- I happily attended the Coyotes home opener last Saturday night with many equally excited fans. The arena was packed and the vibe was good. Regrettably, that wasn’t enough to do to the Chicago Blackhawks what we did to them last season. Chi-town won 6-4.
As NHL.com reported, “Home teams’ success in their openers has been dropping for the past couple of years. Teams went 17-7-6 in their home openers in 2010-11 and fell to 15-11-4 last season. But this is the first time since play resumed after the 2004-05 work stoppage that road teams will win more than half of the games in regulation.”
“You can say, ‘OK, this is just the way it’s going to be, there are going to be lots of mistakes,’ but you know what? Let’s do something about it. Alright, don’t just talk about it; do something about it. That’s what bothers me. Why would we say, “Oh that’s just going to happen”? Let’s not let it happen, let’s do something about it. Get your head together and do something about it instead of making the same errors over and over again” -Head Coach Dave Tippett
Wed, Jan 23rd vs. Columbus- Back at home on Wednesday night the Coyotes made up for their two losses, and did so in style. It was as if Columbus scoring the first goal was the turn of the key that started the Coyotes, or the Steve Sullivan, ignition. In retrospect, the first period was a flop, as the only thing to occur was switch of Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith for Jason LaBarbera (Coyotes later would announce that Smith was done for the game with a lower-body injury). With the Blue Jackets single goal of the evening beginning it all at 5:30 in the second period, the ‘Yotes knew it was time to turn it on. Quick responses from Sullivan and then Ekman-Larsson gave the Coyotes the upper hand going into the third. Sullivan completed his hat trick, and Ekman-Larsson got yet another, ending it all 5-1. Talk about a dynamic duo for the win.
Thurs, Jan 24th at San Jose- One step forward, two steps back. That’s how it has been feeling for the ‘Yotes. After a big win Wednesday they traveled over to California to face the San Jose Sharks. Although the game looked promising, San Jose showed why they are ranking first in the division turning a 3-1 deficit into a 5-3 win against Phoenix.
Sat, Jan 26th vs. Los Angeles- Emotions were high entering this game against the Kings. However, that was no excuse for the poor display of hockey that occurred at home last night. The first period wasn’t all that bad. In no way am I blaming the officials for the loss, that’s a bandwagoner’s mistake, but some poor calls were absolutely the root of building irritations for Phoenix.
The second period was where things began to unravel. Kings center Anze Kopitar scored from the slot on a pass from captain Dustin Brown 1:04 into the period. Nothing the Coyotes couldn’t answer back with at the time as Mikkel Boedker finished a rebound off the post from Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s shot. Kopitar scored another, making it 2-1 Kings. Then Jeff Carter gave the Kings a two-goal cushion when he buried a rebound, 3-1 Kings. This goal, followed by a Coyotes shot in the net that was signaled a no-goal by officials was the breakpoint. The entire rest of the second and then third period was frantic and sloppy. The Coyotes, especially the defense, appeared so entirely off their game it was hard to watch. Positioning was off, players were reaching for the puck, and passes just became turnovers. Regrettably it must be said that even Zbynek Michalek looked ineffective last night and ended the game with a -2. Frustrations started to take hold of Captain Coyote and in the third he took them out on Kings Captain Dustin Brown, and then Assistant Captain Mike Richards. By watching this fight you can tell that the usually composed Shane Doan had some aggression to release.