There probably should be something more artful about that headline, but really, the Phoenix Coyotes simply failed to get a win last night, and make no doubt about it, they should have won the game. Although the shots finished fairly even and the Florida Panthers did generate a few solid chances, the Coyotes controlled this game from the outset and had plenty of opportunities to win it. As has been their struggles in the past, the Coyotes simply failed to convert and made Florida back-up Scott Clemmensen, every bit the stud goalie that Tomas Vokoun is.
Fairly quick recap because, like the 'Yotes, we need to put this one behind us and get right to focusing on tonight's opponents, the Ducks. The good - the Coyotes penalty kill was phenomenal all game, but no better than in OT when they had to kill off a 5-on-3 (I didn't realize they did that in OT) and basically played the final three and a half minutes down a man or two. Despite that, they had the best scoring opportunities including the bizarro Keith Yandle and Ed Jovanovski 2-on-1 break out.
The Coyotes power play wasn't that good - for a few of the opportunities, but then did account for the only goal as Martin Hanzal redirected a Ray Whitney shot for the Coyotes lone goal. It was Hanzal's seventh goal of the year already...he's definitely picking up the offensive play - mostly by getting good positioning in front of the net during power plays and 5-on-5 play.
Nolan Yonkman got all sorts of turned around for the lone Florida goal as he and David Schlemko failed to get the breakout started, leaving Michael Frolik completely open at the side of the net. Nothing for Ilya Bryzgalov to do about that one and the Coyotes were fairly super-pissed about it, particularly Scottie Upshall who banged his stick against the boards near the Coyotes bench. I think Yonkman has played fairly well since his call-up, and Schlemko hasn't been too bad, but I'd love to know what Sami Lepisto did to end up in the doghouse. Also, I'm really tired of the all-rookie pairing (Schlem and Yonkman) and the all old man unit (Jovo and Adrian Aucoin). The rookies suffer from rookie mistakes and bad decisions, and the old men get torched by speedy wingers. How about we split these two pairings Tip?
The OT period saw the Coyotes victimized by more penalties and as the comment of the night shows (below), it's kind of ridiculous how this is going with the team this year. Whitney's hook was a weak OT call, but it was most definitely a penalty as he got his stick into the hands of the Panthers player and held it there for waaaaay too long to let go. The too many men on the ice penalty was just a brain cramp by Jovo playing that puck near the bench. It was an unfortunate call, but it had to be made. I don't know if the refs are looking for the Coyotes to commit infractions during OT, but it has happened far more with them than I've seen with any other team this year.
As for the shootout - Tippett went with his bizarro lineup out there, but the goals from Radim Vrbata and Upshall should have been enough to ice it. Bryz has just not looked good in shootouts this year and the players know to be wary of his poke check. He's going to have to get more comfortable letting players come at him. Stephen Weiss' move was the classic example of how he can get burned like that.
Earlier in the game, Panthers captain Brian McCabe made the play of the game by knocking a Keith Yandle shot hat deflected over Clemmensen and was headed for the back of the net, out of midair and away from danger. It was another opportunity the Coyotes couldn't capitalize on, but this one wasn't really their fault. Also, earlier, Florida forward Radek Dvorak crashed head first into the end boards after a poke check by Bryz broke up his breakaway. It looked very serious, but he left pretty much under his own power - he did not return.
For something completely random from the game comes my highlight of the night though. During the first intermission Mites on Ice game one of the kids scored a pretty little one timer type goal that would be the only goal of the game. After the game, he took a Scottie Upshall-style victory lap around center ice (arms raised over his head at the crowd skating towards the glass), and then when he turned back to the ref tunnel, he fell on his face. It was hilarious! Easily the all-time greatest Mites on Ice moment at a Coyotes game.
OUR THREE STARS
1. Michael Frolik - capitalized on the Coyotes defensive lapse and scored the shootout winner.
2. Scott Clemensen - 40 saves some of the "wow" variety.
3. Keith Yandle - was jumping all over the play in both ends and really controlled the ice out there. This kid is gonna be a star if he isn't already.
COMMENT OF THE NIGHT
Unless, the players arm is severed, let them play…
Tonight the Coyotes travel to Anaheim to play their third game against the Ducks. The first two went fairly crappy, so hopefully the Desert Dogs have figured something out. I wouldn't be surprised to see Paul Bissonnette get back in the lineup at the expense of Taylor Pyatt who played decently last night but failed to convert on two great looks from out in front.