When a team starts out a new season with a 0-7-1 record, only one word can describe it… horrifying! With Halloween approaching, this is scary.
With one lone point in the standings, what is happening?
Several things are going on with this team to cause such a lowly beginning.
First off, they lost to the Anaheim Ducks on October 5, 2017, after relinquishing a 4-1 lead in a game they just threw away to the opposition. The young Arizona Coyotes looked unbeatable for 35 minutes or so… and then the bottom fell out.
Giving up two goals in 31 seconds nearing the end of the middle stanza was all the momentum the Ducks needed to finish off the Yotes in the final period. Giving up four unanswered goals is not a formula for success.
Yet there were some positive signs that the team’s young nucleus could score, they just couldn’t hold their opponent from doing so.
Home opener was spoiled by upstart Vegas expansion team
A new rivalry was born when on October 7, 2017, the new Vegas Golden Knights came to town for the Coyotes’ home opener. Contrary to the first game of the new season, this game was tight and the Coyotes’ gave up the tying goal with just 1:12 left in the third period.
Vegas pulled Marc-Andre Fleury for the extra attacker, and it paid off.
At 3:46 of the overtime, James Neal scored to win the game for Vegas, 2-1. Unknown to the Arizona squad this would be their only point of the new season as they dropped the next six games to go into a tailspin.
Raanta being injured has not helped
Not helping the situation is the fact that the Coyotes’ starting goalie Antti Raanta has not been sharp since the first Vegas game. In the turnaround game in Vegas, he was shelled early giving up three goals on the first five shots he faced.
He got yanked after playing just 6:15. He then relieved Louis Domingue in the Detroit Red Wings’ game and played 20 minutes, but has since not played due to injury. Domingue has been ineffective, so general manager John Chayka called up Adin Hill from the AHL Tucson Roadrunners to see if he could help.
Hill’s NHL debut against the high scoring Dallas Stars was inspiring in that he had a .939 save percentage and made 31 saves.
Still, the Coyotes lost again, after pulling Hill in favor of an additional attacker. The Stars bagged an empty-net goal with 52 seconds left in the last period.
In the rematch in Arizona, Hill lost again 5-4, with the Coyotes playing much better, but still not able to push the game to the victory column. Their one major fault is allowing the opposing team to score after they score and within two minutes.
That is demoralizing and they need to find a way to stop a team once they tie or take the lead in a game.
Chicago came to town and left with a win
The hope for this game was that the Arizona Coyotes would elevate their play by going up against an elite team like the Blackhawks. After the two teams exchanged first and second-period goals, the Blackhawks displayed why they are an elite team.
They scored the go-ahead goal at 15:36 of the third period and then added an empty-net goal with one minute remaining to seal the victory.
The Arizona Coyotes have been close in several games, and at this point, the failures can be attributed to a new system under head coach Rick Tocchet and 11 new faces on the roster. Eventually, things may gel and the players will learn Tocchet’s system and play less afraid.
It takes time, but fans and critics of the team are getting frustrated much like the 2014/15 season when the team only managed 56 points. Can this season still be salvaged?
Forward Brad Richardson stated it best when he told Coyotes’ Dave Vest: “Things can get turned around, you just can’t let it go on for too long. We’ve had some good games. We were right there and then at the end, they score with just a few minutes left. That’s happened a few times, but one win could change everything around and get some bounces going our way. Obviously, you want to get off to a good start and that didn’t happen. We have to try to figure out a way to turn it around and just get one (win) and hopefully, that can spur us and turn us the other way.”
The Arizona Coyotes must now venture out on a five-game road trip beginning tonight against the 4-3-1 New York Islanders. They then play the New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers, and end the trip against the Detroit Red Wings. The hope is that on a long road trip like this the team will come together and fix their issues.
Losing so many games in the beginning of a season is depressing, but not when you go back to the Stanley Cup-winning Los Angeles Kings during the 2011/12 season. They experienced two five-game losing streaks in their first 30 games and still came back to win the Cup as the Western Conference eighth seed.
It might be scary, but the Coyotes have had their tricks, they’re now ready for some treats… specifically some WINS!
Do you feel the Arizona Coyotes can turn things around on this five-game road trip? Let us know in the comments section below.
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