In four games this past week, the Coyotes played fabulous hockey for the equivalent of about three games; unfortunately, their three periods of bad hockey were bad enough to cost them two wins, and the Coyotes finished the first week after that All Star weekend at a mediocre 2-2-0. The Coyotes now sit at 27-19-9, good for 63 points and 3rd in the Pacific and 6th in the Western Conference.
The teams in the West remain closely packed and it is quite possible that when all is said and done all five Pacific Division teams will be in the playoffs, but the Coyotes need to keep winning games in order to secure their best possible seeding.
Be sure to check out the Coyotes cool Valentine's Day game promotion.
Tuesday, February 1 @ San Jose, 5-3 Loss
Of all the losses this season, this might be the toughest pill to swallow. The Coyotes jumped all over San Jose in the first, taking a 2-0 lead on goals from Keith Yandle and Radim Vrbata. Then, Twitter All Star Paul Bissonnette scored his first goal of the season early in the second period making it appear that a true rout was possible. Unfortunately, the Sharks made a goalie change and rookie Alex Stalock shut down the Coyotes the rest of the way. A very late power play goal by Joe Pavelski in the second (only seven seconds left) got the momentum swinging to San Jose and they poured it on with four more in the third while the Coyotes could generate nothing. Patrick Marleau scored the game winner on a shorthanded breakaway.
Wednesday, February 2 vs. Vancouver, 6-0 Loss
Not exactly the opponent one would want for a bounce-back game following a tough loss, as the NHL-best Canucks came to the Valley of the Sun for their first of two trips on Wednesday night. Despite keeping it tight through the first period, the Canucks simply overpowered the Coyotes through the second and third periods, with breakout star Ryan Kesler leading the charge for Vancouver. Ilya Bryzgalov would get mercifully removed after the fifth goal when it was clear the Coyotes weren't going to compete in front of him. The game also marked the end of Keith Yandle's 10-game point streak.
Saturday, February 5 vs. Minnesota, 1-0 Win
The most complete performance of the season from the Coyotes as they played oppressive defense and got a timely goal from Taylor Pyatt off of a great play from Sami Lepisto. Ilya Bryzgalov rarely faced a tough shot and the Coyotes completely dominated a Wild team that came into Phoenix winning six of their past seven games. Shane Doan's words after the Canucks game and two days of intense practices were evident in the full 60 minute effort as the Coyotes were reminiscent of the team that recorded 107 points last season. Also, with the team giving out "wearable blankets" and having $1 beers, a very rowdy crowd of just under 15,000 was in attendance and the atmosphere in the arena was spectacular.
Monday, February 7 vs. Colorado, 3-0 Win
And the defensive intensity continued into the game against the struggling Avalanche as Ilya Bryzgalov recorded his second consecutive victory (fifth of the season). Radim Vrbata was the offensive star scoring two goals and Scottie Upshall scored his team-leading 16th goal in the victory. Solid defensive play from the entire squad limited the opportunities and Bryz answered big when the chances came. Just like that, the Canucks game looks in the distant mirror and the Coyotes were right back in the thick of things for the playoffs.
The Week Ahead
Wednesday night the Coyotes travel to Dallas to face the division-leading, injury riddled and slumping Stars. A win for the Coyotes would tie the teams in points (although Dallas has two games in hand). Saturday night, defending Stanley Cup Champions (and Randy Holt's favorite team) the Blackhawks play their first game in Phoenix for the season. Finally, on Monday, an early 6:00 start to accommodate national television on Versus, as Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals return to Phoenix for the first time in two seasons. Hopefully there will not be a recreation of "the goal."