Coyotes Ups and Downs: Riding High at the Quarter Pole


The Phoenix Coyotes have been a team on a mission to prove to everyone (for the third consecutive year) that they are a legitimate threat in the Western Conference. It's not an easy task and they seem to be perpetually surprising the "experts" with their whole being more than the sum of its parts.

But that's not to say that many individual players aren't excelling through the quarter pole. Although we are going to focus just on the past two weeks, we'll also highlight a few players that have excelled through the first 23 games.

Goalies Trend Notes
Jason LaBarbera
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Barbs only saw the ice once during this two week span, in that disappointing loss in Washington to end the long road trip. He wasn't terrible on the ice, but with the 'Yotes up by a pair, Washington was able to take advantage of some lucky bounces and bad defensive plays to get the win. I was surprised that Barbs didn't get one of the three games in four nights, but with Smith playing so well, Tip can't really be faulted for riding the hot guy.

Mike Smith
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Other than the unfortunate habit the Coyotes have of giving up goals in the final minute of a period, Smith has been phenomenal, with the minor exception being the blip against Vancouver. Smith went 4-2-0 over the past fortnight with a shutout against Dallas and the near shutout against Chicago the other night. His overall numbers of 12-4-3, 2.17, .935 are making people around the Valley say "Ilya Who?"



Defensemen

Adrian Aucoin http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Oakie had just a single assist and was a +2 over the past few weeks, but he also had an impressive 26:16 TOI in the shutout against Dallas and followed that with 24:57 against Chicago. Despite being one of the most physical players on the ice as well, Aucoin had only 2 PIMs over this span as well. Just great work from the rugged vet.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Here's something that says a lot about OEL's progression since last year. Through 23 games, he has taken 3 minor penalties. Last year during the same number of games, he had taken 8, all while playing less than 20 minutes per game. This year, he is playing well over 20 minutes per game and has been an offensive force from the blue line with 5G, 4A already this season.
Rostislav Klesla
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Klesla had a pretty solid two weeks despite only recording a single assist in the game against Buffalo. He was a +3 the other night in Chicago despite playing against some of the better offensive units for the Hawks.
Derek Morris
Not a lot of positive notes on DMo for the past two weeks, which included a dismal performance in the shellacking by Vancouver that saw him finish -3. He did have two assists in Buffalo, but Morris is simply struggling out there this year at -7 with only 4 assists.
Michal Rozsival
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png From all reports, Rozsival is starting to get better, skating with the team and could be back at any point.
David Schlemko
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Another quiet few weeks for Schlemko who had only a single assist and was a -1 during this span. I still think DMo should be headed to the press box for a few games once Roszival returns, but with Tippett's preference for veterans and Yandle's comfort playing with DMo, it might be Schlemko taking a seat unless he starts scoring some points soon.
Keith Yandle http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Yands should've had a goal in the game against Chicago, but even without it, he had a goal and 5 assists over the past two weeks and was a +3. Yandle still needs to improve his play in his own end, but he is assuredly a top 5 offensive defenseman in the NHL at this point; just check out that goal against Anaheim if you have any doubts.



Forwards

Paul Bissonnette http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Biz had the highlight of his career by scoring the game winning goal (a nice put back effort) with his mom and family watching in Buffalo. He wasn't able to bottle the magic in the other two games, but his energy continues to be evident and it was fun to watch the Twitter King get his first goal of the season in that manner.
Mikkel Boedker http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Boeds has gotten shifted up on the line with Captain Coyote recently and has a goal and an assist in the past two games. He also scored the Coyotes lone goal against Philly in that disappointing loss. It would be good to see him on the scoresheet more often, but it's just a matter of time until he breaks out, in my opinion.
Kyle Chipchura
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png With the other Kyle returning to the ice tonight in Winnipeg (theoretically), are we almost at the end of the Chipchura era in Phoenix? We shall see. Only a single point over the past two weeks and was a -3 against Vancouver...I continue to just feel "meh" regarding Chipchura on this squad and if Turris doesn't take his spot, I'd be intrigued to see what Andy Miele could do with it.
Shane Doan http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Two goals and three assists for Doaner over the past two weeks and tons of physical play to boot. Gearing up for his first regular season game in Winnipeg in 15 years, Doan sounded like a man on a mission and that makes me awfully excited.



Boyd Gordon http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Another pair of assists for Boyd as he continues on a pace to set career highs in points while being the more than adequate replacement for Vernon Fiddler that he was brought in to be. For the season he's winning almost 55% of his faceoffs and is tied for third on the team with a +8 rating.
Martin Hanzal http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Hanzal had only a pair of assists during the week, although his feed to set up the Whitney goal in Chicago and the cycle with Vrbata preceding it was a thing of beauty. I'd like to see Hanzal finding the scoresheet more, but he's been in the right places to score if only Whitney or Vrbata would not score themselves on the initial shot.
Lauri Korpikoski http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png

Had his first shorthanded tally of the season against Washington and actually scored a pair of goals in that game. Korpi has been looking stronger on the ice of late and I like his recent work with new linemates Pyatt and Gordon. Added two assists during the two week period and was a +1.

Daymond Langkow http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png After missing 8 games due to the sudden passing of his mother, Langkow has returned with a fury. Four points in two games, including 1G and 3A. Needless to say, it's been nice to see Daymond back on the ice.
Andy Miele
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Miele continues to light things up in the AHL (7G, 13A, +7 in 14 games) and on his Twitter feed. With Turris re-signing, his road may have gotten a bit tougher, but I'd be surprised if we don't see Miele get another call up if there are any injuries to a forward.
Cal O'Reilly
No points for O'Reilly in the past two weeks and he was a healthy scratch in Chicago the other night. I like the effort from O'Reilly, but he hasn't been able to get the offense clicking just yet in Phoenix. He's another guy that is at risk of losing ice time if Turris earns a starting role from Tip.
Patrick O'Sullivan Another guy that just hasn't been able to find his offensive stride right now. I like POS, but I'm just not sure that he's the best option for this squad if Turris and Miele are ready to contribute, or even a guy like Brett MacLean who can snipe a bit on the power play.
Taylor Pyatt
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Of course, as I'm calling out Pyatt for being disappointing, he is starting to find his stride with what I think is a good unit for him. He hasn't exactly been lighting things up as his goal against Dallas is his only point in the past two weeks, but I think his play has improved greatly and we'll see if he can continue to find the back of the net more often.
Raffi Torres
No points in Torres' last six games and he was one of the players who really seemed to struggle against Vancouver (granted, nobody on the ice looked good in that game). I'm still pretty happy with Torres overall, but I like him more when he's putting up points.
Kyle Turris
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Well, whether he finally found a clue or just caved and admitted his bluff, Turris did the right thing and signed with the Coyotes for a very reasonable contract. He's said the right things in the press and showed up in such good shape (with about 20 more pounds of muscle on him) that the 'Yotes declined to send him to Portland for any conditioning and he's expected to play tonight in Winnipeg. If he's committed to playing hard, I think we can expect good things.
Radim Vrbata
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Vrby is the hottest Coyotes right now, recording 6 goals and 2 assists over the past six games. He's tied for the team lead in points with 21 and is tied for 7th overall in the NHL with 12 goals on the season. He's on pace to shatter his career highs of 29 goals and 56 points and has been a huge spark for the Coyotes.
Ray Whitney
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Two goals and four assists in the past two weeks and he shares that team lead in points with 21. Despite being the oldest player on the roster, Whitney doesn't seem to be showing any signs of slowing down.
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