Phoenix Coyotes Ups and Downs: 1st Quarter Grades

Christian Petersen

Evaluations of each individual Phoenix Coyote player through the first 12 games of the 2012-2013 NHL season.

The first 12 games of this shortened NHL season are in the books for the Phoenix Coyotes. The team has an even .500 record at 5-5-2 for 12 points and is currently sitting in 4th in the Pacific Division. There have been some early injuries, a slow start, and one of the worst games of the Dave Tippett era. But there have also been flashes of the team that went to the Western Conference Final last year. Today we're giving some trend grades for the team through the first quarter. The grades were done on a bit of a curve due to the lack of a full training camp and all of the injuries the team has endured. Expectations will be higher in the 2nd quarter.

Goalies Trend Notes
Chad Johnson http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Johnson did a great job in his 2 starts with the parent club. He wasn't asked to do a lot, but when called to make a save he did. Not many goalies get sent down after posting a .952 save percentage. His performance should give comfort to the organization and to the fans that if any injuries occur to Smith or Barbs they've got a capable option to turn to.
Jason LaBarbera http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Barbs had a rough go of it in net while trying to replace Smith after the starter got hurt. While he let in a couple soft goals, the major reason he has a poor GAA and save percentage is because his teammates played poorly in front of him.

Mike Smith
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png The Coyotes starting netminder started the year poorly. As with Barbs, not all of the goals he allowed were his fault, but he certainly didn't look like the Vezina caliber goalie he did last season until after his return from injury.
Defensemen

Oliver Ekman-Larsson

http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png OEL hasn't been perfect, but he's been the most reliable guy on the Coyotes blueline, leading the d-men in points with 2 goals and 5 assists while playing a bunch of minutes every game.
Rostislav Klesla http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png He's barely played this season after getting injured in the home opener. His veteran presence and defensive skill set have been missed on the blueline. He looked good in his first game back yesterday. Rusty was physical and shot the puck when he had the chance.
Zybynek Michalek http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Z looks better than he did with the Pens. I suspect by the end of the season we'll see a the confident player he was during his first stint in PHX. He blocking shots, lots of shots, including ones with his face.
Derek Morris
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png DMo looks rejuvenated this season. He's been making quick decisions and getting the puck on net from the point.
David Schlemko http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Schlemko had a revolving door of partners including Stone and Rundblad before he got injured.
David Rundblad By all accounts, Rundblad is still a work in progress. Based on his limited game action it appears his defense has improved, but at the expense of his offense. He needs a bit more seasoning down in the AHL. I suspect we'll see him again in Phoenix before the year is out.
Michael Stone http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Inconsistent is the best way to describe the young blueliner's play.
Chris Summers Summers finally got called up and did the one thing he can't afford to, look like a poor defender. To be fair he wasn't the only one who didn't look good against the Blackhawks.
Keith Yandle http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png From game to game it is feast or famine with the alternate captain. He's looked great and terrible. Poor decisions he makes continue to lead to opposition goals.
Forwards

Paul Bissonnette http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png BizNasty has played fairly well in limited minutes, but his stick skills continue to hold him back in terms of getting a jersey every game. NIck Johnson is a better option when everyone is healthy.
Mikkel Boedker http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Boeds is shooting the puck more and is 2nd on the team in points. An offensive explosion may not be far away.
Alexandre Bolduc http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png He's back down in Portland now, but he filled in admirably while in Phoenix. Being a 4th liner being asked to play 1st line center isn't easy.
Kyle Chipchura http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png He's filled in admirably at 4th line center and has dropped the gloves when needed. No goals, but he's doing his job on the forecheck.
Shane Doan Taking too many penalties and not contributing on the score sheet. He normally starts the season slow and this year has been no different.

Boyd Gordon
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Boyd does what he does. Kills penalties, blocks shots, and wins faceoffs. He's spent much of the season playing 3rd line center due to injuries to others and hasn't looked out of place.
Martin Hanzal http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png

Since returning from injury he looks like the Martin Hanzal other teams fear. He leads the team in goals (5) despite having missed 4 games due to injury and probably shouldn't have played in one other. If the injury he suffered in San Jose keeps him out of the lineup again the Yotes offense will probably suffer.

Nick Johnson http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png The surprise of the season so far. He started the year off in Portland, however if he keeps playing the way he has it's highly doubtful he'll be heading back to the AHL this season.
Lauri Korpikoski http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Has 4 goals and could have even more. He's had a fair number of SH chances and is skating as confidently as I've ever seen him even with all the center changes he's gone through.
Matthew Lombardi http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Got hurt just as he was starting to look comfortable in a Coyotes jersey again. The Yotes could use him back ASAP, so Gordon can go back to being the 4th line center.

Andy Miele
He still looks overmatched on NHL ice. In his one game this season he failed to impress, though to be fair he played 4th line minutes.
David Moss
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Doing the little things well, including drawing penalties and staying out of the box, but was expected to chip in more offensively than he has so far. The lack of a full training camp with his new team can't have helped.
Steve Sullivan http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Feast or famine. Had 4 goals in 2 games, but an injury seems to have slowed him down even when in the lineup.
Raffi Torres
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png This grade should probably be an incomplete, because of his suspension and adjusting his style of play. So far, so good in terms of questionable hits.
Antoine Vermette http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Has quietly been having an excellent season. He's making smart decisions and looks much more comfortable this season. Both he and Boyd Gordon are top 25 in the league in the Face Off percentage.
Radim Vrbata
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png He leads the team in points (11) and executed his patented Vrby move in both Coyotes shootouts so far this season. Not surprisingly has struggled a bit offensively when Hanzal is out of the lineup.
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