Ok, things have been crazy in my life so apologies on the lack of a week in review for most of January. Rather than doing our typical game-by-game recap, let's take a quick look back at the month that was and a quick look ahead at what is coming up as well as some thoughts on the team going into the "second half" of the season.
Since the last recap on January 11, the Coyotes have gone 5-4-0 and currently sit in third place in the Pacific Division, sixth in the Western Conference with a 25-17-9 record good for 59 points. Racking up another 40 points in their final 31 games should put them in position for home ice in the playoffs and possibly to win the Pacific, if Dallas finally starts losing some games.
The Month That Was: A Quick Review
Big congratulations to Keith Yandle, who played in his first All Star Game this past weekend in Raleigh while also being named the Second Star of the Month for the NHL for the month of January. Yandle had 3 goals, 14 assists and was a +9 for the month. He also enters tonight's game against San Jose on a nine game point scoring streak.
As for the overall team play, the offensive explosion that began at the end of December continued on for a bit, at least on the road, as the Coyotes lost only a single road game in January, a 6-5 OT loss in Minnesota. Unfortunately, the Coyotes five game road winning streak is offset by their recent 4 game slide on home ice that has included division losses to San Jose and Los Angeles as well as tough losses against Nashville and Edmonton. The Oilers loss, in particular, featured a meltdown of epic proportions as the Coyotes blew a 2-0 lead only to tie the game at 3 before surrendering a weak game winning goal with just 20 seconds left.
The dichotomy between the play at home and on the road is frustrating for fans and the team, especially considering how many more home games the Coyotes have remaining on their calendar. The good news is that these types of streaks are usually just the ebb and flow of the season and should correct themselves with time. Personally, I'd rather see the team figure everything out heading into the end of March and roll into the playoffs playing their best hockey. Also, injuries to key players such as Vernon Fiddler and Ed Jovanovski have certainly not helped the team play consistently. New addition Michal Roszival also seems to have yet to fully recover from his nagging injuries or adapt to Dave Tippett's system to provide the depth that the team is looking for on the back end.
Looking Ahead To The Coming Week
The Coyotes get things rolling after the long weekend tonight in San Jose in an important game against the Sharks. San Jose is nipping at the Coyotes heels and tonight is a big 4-point game for the Coyotes to add some separation between them. Tomorrow night, the Coyotes return to Glendale to host the best of the west, the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks are tied with the Flyers for the best record in hockey through the break and will bring their high powered offensive attack led by Henrik and Daniel Sedin and breakout star Ryan Kesler to the desert as well as some Green Men, possibly. On Saturday, Coyotes Buck Bash returns ($1 sodas, beers, hot dogs, etc.) as the Minnesota Wild come to town - it is also Coyotes "wearable blanket" night, s get there early to get a giveaway. Monday sees the Colorado Avalanche come into town - another big Western Conference match-up.
So eight points on the line this week and each one important. Coach Tippett certainly has a lot of tweaks that he can be making to set the Coyotes up for the second half run and it'll be exciting to see how the team reacts. With so few players making the trip to Raleigh, they should be well rested and hungry - let's see some of that energy at the Shark Tank tonight.