GLENDALE, AZ - MAY 22: Shane Doan #19 of the Phoenix Coyotes looks on before taking on the Los Angeles Kings in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Jobing.com Arena on May 22, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Greeting Phoenix Coyotes fans. We've taken some time off to decompress after the roller coaster ride of this past season. We are back to take a look back at this past season, as well as peak ahead to the future. Today's Roundtable is an all Carl affair as The Dude and myself take a break from trying to impersonate Clark Gable and take over the two top table in the corner of the Castle kitchen to discuss the Desert Dogs.
This past season was full of highs, lows, and Mike Smith. How would you sum up the season? Did you view it as successful?
The Dude: If I were to sum up the season I would say simply that the team exceeded all of our preseason expectations in almost every area. I absolutely view the season as a success, the team won the division for the first time and got to the Western Conference Finals which seemed to bolster the support of the fans and the people of Arizona. On the ice the team was absolutely a success and off the ice I would say that the team took a big step in getting support from the people in Arizona.
Carl: I agree on every aspect, except I did expect the power play to be better. If you had told me before the season that the Yotes were going to make the Western Conference Final I would have asked what type of substance you were currently on. The bonus was, with the Suns not in the playoffs for a change, the Desert Dogs finally got the Valley sports scene to themselves for a brief bit of time. In the end, the post-season may have been more successful off the ice than on it because of the support you mentioned.
Which Phoenix player/s exceeded your expectations going into the season?
The Dude: Of course Mike Smith far exceeding my preseason expectations. Oliver Ekman-Larsson I thought played great throughout the season. There are a few players that I thought played great in the playoffs but were quiet in the regular season like Mikkel Boedker and there was a few players who I thought were amazing during the regular season but were quiet during the post season like Radim Vrbata. Antoine Vermette I thought was great during the off season and since he was a late edition I can accept that it took him a while to get things going. I think on the whole the entire team played better then I thought they would overall.
Carl: Mike Smith, Mike Smith, and the fella they call Smitty. Smith played better than anyone could have ever hoped or imagined. Ekman- Larsson and Rostislav Klesla also exceeded my expectations. While I expected both to have good seasons I don't expect them to be so good. OEL's play as a 20 year old playing his second pro season was outstanding. Klesla was the Yotes best defender all season. He played with a confidence and an edge we didn't see after he was traded from Columbus the prior season.
Which Phoenix player/s were a disappointment based on your expectations prior to the season?
The Dude: I had hoped that Jason LaBarbera would have come away with a better record. I also have to say that I didn't expect that Raffi Torres would do something that would get him suspended for 25 games so that was kinda disappointing.
Carl: The one player who comes to mind right away is Keith Yandle. He regressed this past season. His play in his own end was poor. He appeared to lack confidence at times on the ice. He lost way too many one on one battles and his poor positioning gets him into trouble often. His pairing faced easier competition than the prior season which makes things even more concerning going forward. Daymond Langkow was a bit disappointing during the regular season, but given how much time he lost due to the neck injury, the death in his family in the Fall, and his age it shouldn't have been so surprising to me. He looked like he finally hit his stride in the postseason.
Which areas need to be improved upon for the Coyotes to be a better team in 2012-2013?
The Dude: I think that the team needs to get better offensively to be successful next season. The power play needs to get a lot better next season. I would say that certain players were extremely streaky and I would like to see them perform on a more consistent basis.
Carl: I agree that the offense and the power play need improvement. Of course, anyone who has followed this team in recent times has said the same thing after every season. The team is still in need of a scoring winger or two and a play making center. The next couple of weeks should be interesting with trade rumors heating up, the draft, and free agency beginning on July 1. I expect the Coyotes to be active in the trade market, especially with the ownership issue possibly complicating the ability to sign free agents.