Monday, October 12, 2009

After the Whiteout

Give credit to the organization. Somehow, some way, the Coyotes figured out not only a way to fill the building on Saturday but they also created a compelling story that grabbed a great deal of fan and media attention. For one night, the Job was an exciting and electric place.

Unfortunately, there was no happy ending.

The Coyotes outshot the BJs 36-19 but the volume of shots is a little misleading. The Yotes' didn't have that many good scoring opportunities and Columbus goaltender Mattheu Garon only had to make a handful of quality saves.

A far more telling number was the team's 0-7 on the power play, including two failed 5 on 3s. The home team simply could not break through against a very good Columbus team. Ed Jovanoski was indecisive all night and the Blue Jackets defense did a good job clearing the front of the net.I know the words "very good team" and Columbus are relatively new when used together but the BJs are well coached, very responsible defensively and a very formidable opponent. In some ways, they are what the Coyotes will have to become this year to be successful.

And Columbus has Rick Nash, he of the game winning goal and a commensurate offensive star. Something the Coyotes desperately lack.

To paraphrase Dennis Green, the Coyotes are what we thought they are. Goals will be tough to come by. The team will rely on tight checking and defense and hope that the goaltending continues to come up big. So far so good in the nets.

Now comes the hard part.

Thursday night games in October haven't been very good draws. St. Louis is a good young team but doesn't have the cache of the next two home opponents; Boston and Detroit. It will be quiet at the arena on Thursday.

And the schedule doesn't get any easier. San Jose tonight, St. Louis Thursday, the big, bad Bruins on Saturday and Detroit next Thursday. It's a tough stretch. But it also gives the Coyotes a chance to catch some teams on their first long trip of the season.

The Coyotes need to stay true to Coach Dave Tippett's game plan. The team has allowed 7 goals in 4 games (and are pitching a shutout tonight vs. the Sharks as we write this piece) That kind of defense will win a lot of games. As much as we enjoyed the opening game in Los Angeles (and the Coyotes are the only team to beat the Kings so far this year) the hard truth is that there aren't going to be a lot of 6-3 games involving Phoenix this year.

Get used to low scoring games with tight checking, lots of discipline and (one hopes) outstanding goaltending. That's this year's formula for success. And there is no other options available.

Stupid Newspaper Tricks

According to today's Repulsive, defenseman Kurt Sauer (upper body) remains day to day.

Of course, the same paper reported last week that he was undergoing tests on Friday for headaches.

I guess that's an upper body injury but it certainly was disclosed. The Coyotes reporters would do well to read the paper. Their own.

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