We're only through 4 games of the season and things have already gotten a little rough for the Coyotes. 3 points with a 1-2-1 record. Two one goal game losses. Captain Shane Doan suspended for 3 games and Martin Hanzal out for at least a week with a lower body injury. Happy times I tell ya. Not everything is looking bleak though. Ed Jovanovski looks to return along with Ray Whitney who both missed the last game in Anaheim. And look, realistically the season is only at game 5 for the Coyotes. Nothing to panic about yet.
Tonight's game would be a great time to get back on track though. Being a few key pieces down and taking out the Los Angeles Kings would be a good boost to a team looking for a break. They'll be helped out somewhat by the absence of Drew Doughty on the Kings blueline. Doughty took a hard hit from Erik Cole in the first period of last night's game against the Hurricanes and will be out at least 7 days with a concussion.
Five for Winning
No More Invisible Ninja: Since the beginning of last year's playoff run Lee Stempniak has gone quiet. Look, we're not expecting 30 goals out of him (Though that'd be nice) nor does he need a 30% shooting percentage. What he does need is to get going. Pot a goal here. Come on buddy.
Limit the Shots: Without Zbynek Michalek on the blueline the Coyotes goaltenders have seen quite a few shots so far this season. The team has yet to keep a team below 30 shots in a game. Something has to give, because though the they haven't given up many goals that save percentage can't stay up forever.
Can't Replace Doan: You can't replace the man, but you do need to replace his physicality. Teams hate playing against Doan, well the fans of teams hate him more it seems. That's because he'll just straight up plow through people to get the puck back and to set the tone. Typically I'd say Hanzal might be able to pick up some slack, but it'll have to be someone else. Who's it going to be? Maybe Taylor Pyatt? He's laid some good ones on guys lately. Someone has to do it though.
Ignore the Holes: There's a couple of pretty big ones in the lineup with Shane Doan and Martin Hanzal out, but they're going to have to get over it pretty quickly. Those aren't guys you just go out and replace, but they have to find a way to dig deep and play their game.
Find the Energy: Too many times in this young season the Coyotes have just looked... flat. In the first Prague game they looked great, flying around taking shots, making hits, scoring goals. At times in other games the team has had that fire underneath them. But not long enough. They made a good comeback against the Ducks, but couldn't finish it off. Same against the Red Wings, they kept it close, but the discipline and energy failed them in the end. They don't have the same lightning in a bottle that they had to begin last year (or so it seems so far) but they need to figure something out because this can't last.
I've seen him make a few nice dangles here and there this season, but in general haven't even heard his name called. Much like Doan before the suspension, he's a guy that's got to be hurting to get on the board.
The Kings leading scorer last season, he just got his first of the year last night. Don't let that become a streak for the zombie.