When new head coach Rick Tocchet signed on to be behind the bench of the Arizona Coyotes little did he know what his team would look like after 19 games.
Sporting a dismal 2-14-3 record with the season almost a quarter of the way gone is not what he envisioned when he took the job.
Starting the season with 11 straight losses and not having a regulation-time win in 19 games will get you noticed for all the wrong reasons.
The Coyotes are young, is that an excuse?
The average age of the Coyotes is 25 years-six months-old. They are the fourth youngest team in the NHL, with the teams younger than them just a few months to their junior.
So, that could be why the team is failing so profusely, right?
The other three teams younger than the Arizona club have a total of 53 points. The average would be about 18 points. The Coyotes have seven points. Doesn’t that strike home like losing a game in the last part of the third period?
Oh, the team has already done that?
Right… forgot about that.
In that lies one of this team’s brutal flaws. They have given up 31 of their NHL leading 74 goals in the third period. That comes to 42% of the total goals the team has relinquished.
Which means they lose the lead… constantly. It gets old to hear a player comment after another loss about how they need to play a full 60 minutes of hockey to win.
The problem is at this point, it’s nothing but talk. The team has taken the lead in 14 of their 19 games, only to see their opponent take it away from them.
It could be that the young players are not talented enough to maintain a lead, or it could be this team needs to either gel really fast, or it may be blown up to improve.
Now could be the time to consider some trades
The team has a goldmine of talented young players to use as trade bait. Take Dylan Strome. He’s starting to tear it up in the AHL for the Coyotes’ affiliate Tucson Roadrunners. He has three goals, 12 assists in ten games.
He hasn’t exactly excelled at the NHL level, and the team has been more than patient in his development process. Maybe it’s time to see what they can get for him.
They also have Nick Merkley in Tucson and he has eight goals and five assists in ten games. They are both good young players, and might be traded for more veteran players who have more experience at closing out games when the team has the lead.
Then, there is Tobias Rieder who could also be dealt away. He has super speed and is an excellent penalty killer, so he has value for another team.
This is not hitting the panic button because all realists knew before the season started that losing veterans like Mike Smith, Shane Doan, Martin Hanzal, and Radim Vrbata would sting. They just didn’t know how much. That is becoming more and more apparent with each heart-breaking loss.
It’s not that his team has been blown out. They have only really lost a blow-out to the Boston Bruins 6-2. They seem to be in each and every game until whatever it is that is ailing them (I’m sure Tocchet will discover it and fix it soon, right?) hits them like a Dustin Byfuglien cross-check to the ribs.
Still, losing seven one-goal games is not acceptable.
Losses create a losing culture
What hasn’t seemed to occur just yet, is a losing culture which was on display a few seasons ago when the team fell to historic depths of failure finishing with a mere 58 points.
If one were to project their season-ending record at the pace they are currently following, it wouldn’t be pretty.
Try 30 points.
They are currently at a .184 winning percentage. That doesn’t bring fans out to the arena to watch a hockey game.
If this team wants to attract new fans, as the new owner Andrew Barroway stated, they had better start winning. Nothing brings fans through the turnstiles like winning. Conversely, nothing keeps them away from the arena like losing.
Speaking of arenas… there still is no mention of where this team will hang their skates next season. If they continue to lose as badly as they have thus far, how difficult will it be to convince investors to contribute to a new facility?
I wouldn’t, would you?
What the management and coaching staff of the Arizona Coyotes need to do is nip any “losing is natural”, or “we’re just not good enough” attitude from hitting the team.
It would spread like a wildfire and destroy the confidence of this team. Tocchet himself has to start wondering if his job is safe. It’s always the head coach’s fault when the wheels come off.
There are some bright points
Clayton Keller is one bright point on this team this season. He has shown without a doubt that he is here to stay in the NHL. With 11 goals. six assists in 19 games, he has been the spark which would ignite any other team.
Unfortunately, his talent may be wasted on team who has no apparent ability to win games. Keller has done what he does best, but he is one player and needs the other players to step up.
Brendan Perlini has also shown some excellent offensive talent, with his wicked shot and speed. There is a definite nucleus to this team which should start any time now showing its power and domination.
It just hasn’t happened yet.
Tell us what you think of the poor start of this Arizona Coyotes team, and what they should do to right the ship. Let us know in the comments section below.
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?