Monday Morning Musings: Olympic hockey time

Christian Petersen

A look back at an interesting week in Coyotes hockey with thoughts and observations from Managing Editor Jaime Eisner.

A week of inconsistency inside a month of inconsistency inside a season of inconsistency. That's how to describe Phoenix Coyotes hockey as of late. The Olympic break is coming at a good time for a team that can't seem to string together two wins in a row.

With the Olympic break upon us, here are a few tidbits and notes from the week that was in Coyotes hockey:

- The Jekyll and Hyde routine the Coyotes have fallen in over the last few weeks is getting old. Phoenix has the ability to beat any team in the league but has struggled against the below-average and downright bad teams.

- I'm inclined to chalk up Saturday's loss to playing a game 20 hours after finishing another, because the Coyotes could not get out of the starting blocks.

- I feel that game was an outlier, caused by fatigue, because of the one thing that has been consistent for the Coyotes recently, possession numbers. Starting with the LA game, Phoenix posted possession numbers (5v5 Corsi For% Close) of 50.0%, 52.1%, 50.0%, 50.0%, 50.0% and 34.9% respectively.

- Those numbers point out to me that the Dallas game was exceptionally bad possession wise (which is obvious to anyone who watched the game) and the Coyotes' inconsistency prior to Saturday isn't heavily possession based.

- I think Phoenix's recent struggles can be attributed to missed opportunity. Looking at the two most recent losses prior to Saturday night, a pattern emerges. The Coyotes are playing strong third periods and getting nothing out of it.

- Looking specifically at the Sabres (1/30) and Stars (2/4) games, the Coyotes averaged a 71.4% 5v5 Corsi For percentage in the third period but were out-scored 3-0 (including one empty net). On both occasions, the game was tied heading into the third period and Phoenix's opponent took the lead in the first four minutes.

- Overall, the Coyotes are just an average possession team 5v5 (14th), that dips below average (20th) in close game situations. While they can improve there, their offensive struggles (2.0 Goals/G in last six) are the main issue.

- Connor Murphy and Tim Kennedy were assigned to Portland so they can play during the break. The moves will save the Coyotes a little salary and cap space while allowing a couple of their non-Olympians to keep playing.

- Five Coyotes will be participating in the 2014 Winter Olympics (Martin Hanzal, Mike Smith, Lauri Korpikoski, Zbynek Michalek and Oliver Ekman-Larsson) for four different countries. Odds are at least one 'Yote comes home with a medal, maybe even a gold.

- MMM will be taking an Olympic hiatus as well. The next edition of MMM will be on March 3.

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