What is your hockey-related New Year's Resolution?
Graham Taylor: I took a great first step in my hockey-related NY resolution when I took my 4-year old daughter skating on new year's day. I just hope to be on the ice more, in any way possible.
Carl Putnam (Alpha): Try and get out to an ASU hockey game at Oceanside. I haven't been to a Sun Devils hockey game in ages and what has happened with the program the last couple of years is incredible.
Carl Pavlock (Beta): Go to more games. I have been strapped for cash as of late but I am getting more money as the year progresses and the first thing I decided to buy is tickets to the rest of the games this year. I also hope to go to more ASU hockey games including the final games against U of A in Tucson.
Brendan Porter: Send Brian Burke a book on advanced stats. If you're going to keep Keith Yandle off the team do it for the QualComp and not because "he scares me." (Editor's note: <3)
Who's been the Coyotes most surprising player (for good or bad) in 2013?
Christopher Hair: My most surprising player in 2013 for both good and bad is Antoine Vermette. He struggled mightily in the lockout shortened 2013 season, only getting 13 goals and eight assists in 48 games while skating to a -3 and taking 36 PIMs. Frankly, he wasn't very good for much of the year, but he's been phenomenal in the 2013 portion of the 2013-14 season. In 39 games, he has 12 goals, 10 assists, he's a +3 and he's taken half the penalties he took last year. He's been arguably the most valuable Coyote forward with his play in both ends of the ice and his faceoff dominance.
Brendan: For me this is Tim Kennedy. I had low expectations for him this season, which is to say I thought he'd be an occasional injury call-up but spend most of his time in Portland. He has really impressed me in the time he's played with Phoenix though. He finally got rewarded with a greasy goal on Ilya Bryzgalov New Year's Eve, but has had a ton of decent scoring chances and has been trying to make things happen on offense. He's gone above and beyond what I expected.
Alpha: For me, it's been Rob Klinkhammer. His ability follow up his mid-season call-up last season with another solid season so far has been impressive. Not bad for a guy who bounced around a bit and was seen as a depth signing last offseason. Thomas Greiss has also performed better than expected.
Beta: I have been pleasantly surprised by Antoine Vermette. Since he came here I thought he has been a very good center, but he has really stepped into the role of a leader for the team. He is great on faceoffs, has been able to generate offense and he is able to lead by example which is always a good thing.
Should Coyotes fans be happy the team is getting points out of these games (six consecutive OT games) or concerned that they aren't getting enough?
Graham: Every point is so valuable in the NHL these days, and the way the team has come from behind in so many of those games is a very promising sign. The concern is why they put themselves in those positions in the first place, and where was the consistent compete level for the rest of the game.
Alpha: Both. The team is getting points, but they have continued a habit off coming back from deficits which they created in the first place. In addition, they've struggled to get their offense, defense, and goaltending all trending positive for a stretch of games.
Christopher: If those games had been on home ice instead of on the road, there should be concern. But playing six straight OT games, with four on the road and two of them against against arguably top three teams in the league, you should take the points and be happy. More than likely, the points they lost in this stretch will probably affect them in seeding more than it will in playoff positioning. Getting the points was huge, imagine how much worse it would feel if they had only gotten to OT in three of those games instead of all six?
Beta: Both. Fans should be happy that we are getting points against teams like Anaheim and San Jose because those are two of the better teams in the NHL, but the team should be concerned that they are letting teams like Toronto and Buffalo take them to overtime where anything can happen. The Coyotes haven't been playing their best lately, and they have a tendency to let teams come back, which is one of the reasons the games have been going to OT. I think that should be the area of concern for fans.
The Coyotes are in the middle of a long home stand. Will some home cooking end the team's recent scoring woes?
Graham: Glendale has finally become a real home ice advantage, and their 11-3-3 record points that out. They score about a goal more per game at home. Not only their home record, but some of the poor defensive teams coming in should surely see even more pucks find the net over the home stretch, much to the delight of the growing crowds at Jobing.com Arena.
Brendan: I'm not overly concerned about the scoring problems; getting Shane Doan back and in the lineup, especially on the power play, will help in that regard. What I really am concerned about is Mike Smith's play. With the exception of the Edmonton game, Smitty has been average to decent. But that's simply not good enough in a division with Jonathan Quick, Antti Niemi, and Jonas Hiller. He still is searching for his first shutout, and is part of the reason the Coyotes are struggling to hold down leads. It certainly isn't all his fault, but he could use a stretch of games where he only gives up a goal or two and gets into a groove.
Alpha: It can't hurt. Phoenix has scored more goals per game at home than on the road this season. They don't have an 11-3-3 record at home by accident. In addition, if we assume Shane Doan comes back during the home stand one would suspect that would help as well. He was the team's leading goal scorer at the time he fell ill last month.
Christopher: Being in Jobing.com will certainly help, but so will the competition. Playing the Oilers, Blue Jackets and Flames on this home stand should be good for fixing the offensive woes much more than being at home.