The Coyotes played three games this week and lost all three. More importantly, they scored exactly one goal in all three games. Injuries and illness have certainly contributed to the lack of offensive punch in that stretch, but is there more going on than meets the eye? Let's take a deeper look at the recent performance of major Coyote fantasy performers to find out.
Coyotes Scoring Last 10 Games
Shane Doan (4 games)
Looking closer at the table, we can see some important details pop out. It's those details that we will look deeper into.
1. What's Happened to the Offensive Defensemen?
The Coyotes started the season with a bang and have ranked in the top ten of the league in scoring all season long. The main reason has been the fantastic performance they have gotten from their blueline offensively. In the last ten games, that facet of the game has fallen by the wayside. The only Coyote defensemen to score a goal in the past ten games is Keith Yandle, and their top three offensive blueliners (Yandle, OEL and Stone) combined for eight total points. Derek Morris returned to the lineup last night against the Maple Leafs after missing the previous five games. He had two assists in the four games before that. His presence allows Yandle to open up his game even more offensively and hopefully he can stay in the lineup for an extended time.
Obviously, you are still playing Yandle and Ekman-Larsson every game, but Stone can, and should be dropped if he's on your roster. Morris could be rostered depending on your needs, but I'd wait to see him play another game or three in a row.
2. Is Shane Doan the Coyotes' Most Important Forward?
According to the record the team has put up since his mysterious illness afflicted him, no. The team has gone 2-2-2 without Doan in the lineup. Statistically, there could be an argument to make. In the six games before Doan exited the lineup, the Coyotes were averaging 2.67 goals per game on 33 shots per game. Since he's been out, they have scored 2.33 goals per game on 33.5 shots per game. Offensively, they are getting more shots on net and scoring less since he's been out of the lineup. Obviously, it's a small sample size and there are any number of other possible culprits for the offensive decline (including one we'll get to in point three) but his absence is having an effect.
There is now more of a burden on the Hanzal/Vrbata combo to produce and they flat out haven't been up to the task with the Captain out. In the six games since he's been out, those two have added one goal and two assists. It's not good enough. Mike Ribeiro has done his best to keep the team going, but with Doan out, his linemates haven't been up to the task of carrying the offense. Coach Tippett tried Gilbert Brule on Ribeiro's wing in Toronto, and while they didn't get any points, Brule did bring some spark and potential scoring chances to the ice. Now they just need to finish.
The surprising thing that has come out of the Doan situation is the re-emergence of Mikkel Boedker fantasy wise. He's been the second best fantasy forward for the Yotes in the last ten games and is certainly worth adding at the moment. Boedker's biggest issue against being a regular fantasy factor is his consistency, but he has stepped up his play when his team has needed him. Now the rest of his teammates need to follow him.
3. Not so Special Teams
The Coyotes power play has been surprisingly effective this season, but the luster has been coming off the shiny new toy in recent games.
Overall, the Coyotes power play ranks tied for seventh in the league and is clicking at a 20% success rate. That number has been hurt by the performance of the advantage unit recently. In the current ten game block, the Phoenix power play has scored only five goals on 31 chances for a 16.1% success rate. It's not bad, but that number would rank in the bottom third of the league over a full season. The distressing aspect is that they are now zero for their last ten with the man advantage. For Mike Ribeiro, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Keith Yandle, and Martin Hanzal, the special team's drought has had an especially negative effect on them, as they have enjoyed the benefits of the strong power play all year long. The Coyotes power play should find it's footing again shortly, but it could certainly gain a boost from a quick return to action for Shane Doan.
4. Running with the Pack
- Connor Murphy's points streak ended at three after not getting anything against the Leafs on Thursday night. He played with OEL and saw 22:33 of action in that game. If he's skating with OEL, he's worth adding to your roster, but I wouldn't be starting him in a rotisserie league yet (or any league with games played limits).
- Add Mikkel Boedker, drop Antoine Vermette. Vermette has played well, but given his current role as third line center and the lack of scoring depth the Coyotes have on the roster now, he's not worth keeping. When Lauri Korpikoski and Shane Doan return, pick Vermette up again, but not before.
- Mike Smith is starting to turn it around. He has a 1.78 goals against average in the past five games along with a .918 save percentage. Still wouldn't make him a number one starter, but he is clawing his way back into solid number 2 range.
5. The Trail Ahead: The Next Week of Games
With the holiday season in full bloom, the Coyotes will only play two games in the coming week. Both games come against weaker opposition, so hopefully they can reignite the offensive engines.
The Coyotes will take on the Senators on Saturday in a rematch of an early season OT loss in Glendale. Ottawa currently ranks tenth offensively but defensively they have been porous, ranking 28th in goals against. With fewer chances to gain ground in their playoff chase, the Yotes need to pick up points in Canada's capitol in a big way and the offense will probably need to lead the way.
On Monday, the Coyotes end their Eastern Conference road trip in Buffalo with a matchup with the league worst Sabres. Defensively, the Sabres aren't a wreck, ranking 22nd in the league, but their offense is a horror show. They are dead last in scoring and are the only NHL team not averaging at least two goals a game. Word of advice for Monday: START SMITH. If he can't get his first shutout of the season against the Sabres, he might not get one at all in 2013.
Good luck and happy holidays everybody.