Phoenix Coyotes Ups and Downs: Stumbling at the Halfway Mark

The first twenty games of the season for the Phoenix Coyotes saw them exceeding all expectations and pushing for the lead of the Pacific Division. Unfortunately, over the past twenty-one games, the Coyotes have gone only 8-11-1 and dropped down to 11th place in the Western Conference. The good news is that the Desert Dogs still sit only 4 points behind San Jose for top spot in the Pacific Division.

After the jump, we'll look back at the most recent 5 games and how the players have fared, trending up, down or staying still...

Goalies Trend Notes
Jason LaBarbera
Barbs is the equivalent of a very good relief pitcher; he fills in, keeps things where they are and gets the job done in long situations (spot starts) when required. Unfortunately, in the starting role, he's just not the guy you want going there every night. Barbs wasn't bad in most of those starts, but the 'Yotes kept falling short in those one goal games. His best outing came against Boston where he made 27 saves on 29 shots taking the OT loss.
Curtis McElhinney
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png In the final game of 2011, Mc got the call in net and put on a sensational performance en route to a 4-2 victory against the Wild. Mc made 28 saves, some of the amazing variety down the stretch and the Coyotes earned the much needed win.

Mike Smith
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png After missing 6 games with a lower body injury, Smith returned and played fairly well in his return against St. Louis and was fabulous in Los Angeles last night losing a heartbreaker in OT, controlling his rebounds well and looking "big" in the net. Hopefully this is the start of a very solid stretch of play that the Coyotes can use to start a lengthy winning streak in this very tough upcoming schedule.



Defensemen

Adrian Aucoin http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Oakie missed a number of games with a lower body injury and then took a puck to the face against LA last night. Since returning from the lower body injury, his ice time is down to about 17 minutes/game and he's a -3, but I still love his work mentoring OEL and the other young d-men.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png If there is one player whose play has been indicative of the overall team success, it might be OEL. In the 19 wins, he has 5G, 5A and is +8; in 21 losses, he has 1G, 4A and is -15. With a team that relies on secondary scoring, OEL has been a frequent contributor to the team's success.
Rostislav Klesla
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png I really love Klesla and his tenacity in the defensive zone. Unfortunately, he can't seem to hit the broad side of a barn when he jumps into the play. If Yandle were getting the feeds that Klesla finds on his stick, this team might have 3-4 more wins.
Derek Morris
DMo continues to struggle and with the return of a healthy Rozsival and the play of Schlemko, Morris has been spending several games in the press box. Not exactly where I'm sure the Coyotes want to see one of their best paid d-men, but until he can pick his game up, I'm not even sure he will get the call ahead of Rundblad if any d-man misses time soon.
Michal Rozsival
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Rozy has never been an offensive player, but his play in the offensive zone hasn't inspired much confidence in me. Defensively, he's been very solid and has been getting the job done; just unspectacular gritty type of work.
David Rundblad http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png By all accounts, Rundblad (acquired from Ottawa in the Kyle Turris trade) is going to be a special player...haven't seen too much from him since he's been riding the pine in the press box except for a single game, where he recorded an assist and was -1. I'd like to see more from Rundblad, but with the starting 6 set, it probably would be best to send him down to Portland and get him some time in the organization until he's needed.
David Schlemko http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Had an assist in the game against Boston and has otherwise been positive or even in every game recently. Seeing a lot of time with Yandle, which I find a curious pairing, but he's really stepped up his defensive play in this role and I've been impressed.
Chris Summers http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Summers is back down at Portland and with the Rundblad acquisition, it would take a rash of injuries or moves before Summers is probably back. I think Summers will benefit from the experience playing top pairing minutes in Portland so I'm not in any rush to get Summers back up just yet.
Keith Yandle http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Although not quite the follow-up to the breakout season he had last year that the Coyotes were looking for, and the occasional defensive lapses have been frustrating to watch, but Yandle is still a superstar in this league and is leading the Coyotes defense in points and had assists against St. Louis and Minnesota.
Forwards

Paul Bissonnette http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png With all the injuries recently for the Coyotes, there's been a lot more BizNasty on the ice and while the fists haven't been flying, Biz has been doing his agitating best and putting together some very solid shifts on the ice with good cycle play.
Mikkel Boedker http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Boeds has really picked up his play, culminating in the 2-goal game he had against Colorado (in an unfortunate losing effort) and is now seeing "top line" minutes with Doan and Langkow. As he continues to harness his speed and get better at finishing his opportunities we may see his offensive numbers explode.
Kyle Chipchura
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Another guy that has stepped up his play in the wake of the injuries to the top centers; had three assists over the past week and countless other solid opportunities.
Shane Doan Six games without a point for Captain Coyote and his -11 continues moving in the wrong direction. Doan is the undoubted leader of the team and is doing plenty in the other areas of the ice to make up for this lack of production, but it would be nice to see him go on a tear right about now.



Boyd Gordon http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Gordon has a lower body injury and hasn't played since December 23. Hopefully he will be back soon as the team has really missed his ability to win crucial faceoffs and to kill penalties.
Martin Hanzal http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Hanzal also hasn't played since taking a stick to the head from David Backes on December 23 and is on the IR. Missing Hanzal will always hurt this team as he is their top defensive center and also plays on all special teams; combined with the Gordon injury, it is just killing this team. His injury is probably most responsible for the team's recent skid, in my opinion.
Lauri Korpikoski http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png

No points for Korpi over the past week, although I feel like he is creating solid opportunities just about every game and his shorthanded goal against the Rangers got a nice shout-out on 24/7.

Daymond Langkow http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Has really picked up his play recently and had a solid goal and assist over the past week or so. With all the opportunities he gets, he should probably have more points, but he is getting the job done killing penalties and winning faceoffs. If he keeps driving the net like he did to get the goal against Minnesota, he's going to score a bunch more playing with Doan and Boedker.
Andy Miele
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Miele got another shot up with the NHL squad and didn't really do anything to stand out while also struggling mightily in the faceoff circle. In recent games with Portland, he's apparently been playing a bit on the wing perhaps in anticipation of a new role if he gets recalled again. On the clearly up side, he was named to the AHL All Star Game - Congrats Andy!!!
Cal O`Reilly
Cal really hasn't done much to distinguish himself on the ice and has been a minus more often than not over the past week. He may see his ice time cut significantly when Gordon and Hanzal return.
Patrick O`Sullivan Another guy that just is not making the most of his chances, particularly with all the power play time he gets on the ice.
Marc-Antoine Pouliot
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png In last night's game you never would have guessed that it was only Pouliot's second game with the Coyotes as he looked very strong on the ice, jumping into the play and making things happen.
Taylor Pyatt
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Had a pair of assists against Colorado on the Boedker goals and has generally looked much stronger on the ice driving to the net and working the cycle down low.
Raffi Torres
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Mixed bag for Torres who plays some very solid games, including a 2 goal effort in LA the day after Christmas. More recently though it's been the borderline dirty hits that have earned him a few calls from Mr. Shanahan and two games in the press box. Raffi has been a big part of this team's success and is finding his stride of late; he needs to make sure he stays on the right side of the line and contributes in a positive manner.
Kyle Turris
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Last time I will check in on Turris, who got his wish and is free of the defensive system of Dave Tippett. Since the trade, Turris has a goal and 5 assists and is a +6. He recorded his first goal of the season and multipoint game last night against Tampa Bay. Good for you, Kyle.
Radim Vrbata
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Well, Vrby has already equaled last year's goal total in half the games and seems to be (at times) the only Coyotes player capable of scoring. He should be a sure bet to make the all star team this year, but not sure if he will get the national attention to be selected over the bigger name of Whitney. Personally, they should both get recognized with the seasons they are having.
Ray Whitney
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Ageless wonder, Wizard, star of Twitter reality hashtag game #whereswhitney. I know he's old and all, but please let's keep him around for a few more years.
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