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Phoenix Coyotes Ups and Downs: Getting Back in the Groove

It may be a bit early to be looking at how everyone is doing this year, but why should that stop us. Back by popular demand (ok, back because I like writing them and it's a good way to check in with how the team and players are performing each week). For those new to the site, or that have forgotten how this works, we'll look at each player on the Phoenix Coyotes roster and determine whether they are trending up, trending down or staying in neutral.

Of course, the first week is kind of the baseline, so we're really looking right now at whether players have performed well, poorly or been generally not noticeable. The one exception, well...keep reading after the jump to find out.

And here we go:

Goalies Trend Notes
Jason LaBarbera Hard to really say much of anything about Barbs as he has just been sitting on the bench so far this year. He's going to get his shot in net (possibly tonight against Nashville) and we'll be keeping a close eye on how he looks and whether he is taking puck handling lessons from Smith.

Mike Smith Smith has had a bit of a rough start to his career in Phoenix. First, he gets shellacked against San Jose, facing 52 shots while performing admirably even if one or two he'd probably like back. Then he plays an almost perfect game against Dallas before giving up a last minute deflection goal and then losing in the shootout. Not sure how anyone can be lamenting his first two starts as there was plenty to be encouraged about.


Adrian Aucoin Might be a bit unfair considering that nobody on the Coyotes is currently a positive player (since they have yet to score a 5-on-5 goal), but Oakie is -3 and has taken two minor penalties in two games. He's still playing a ton of minutes though and doing a good job mentoring OEL out there.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson It's been a nice start to the season for the young Swede as he's playing almost 20 minutes a night, scored a power play goal and has shown a willingness to both play cautious and physical. The maturity in his game from last year, combined with his raw talents are going to keep him in the top 6 throughout the year, I think.
Rostislav Klesla It was really great to see Klesla drop the gloves after taking a few cross checks to the head in Dallas. Sure, he didn't fare well in the fight and it's not what I want to see him doing regularly, but I appreciate making it clear that this team is going to defend itself out there. He's a -2 on the season, though, and that has me feeling pretty neutral on him so far.
Derek Morris
I'm not sure anyone had more issues out there in San Jose and Dallas, taking 3 minor penalties, a -2 on the ice and his penalty kill play wasn't superb either. He did look a bit better in Dallas, but he's not doing any favors for Yandle out there right now.
Michal Rozsival Ouch...just ouch. When there's blood on the ice, it's never a good thing. When it's on the ice because you took a deflected shot to the face...ugh. Hopefully Rozy will be back on the ice soon.
David Schlemko Although, if Rozsival is out for extended period of time, Schlemko looked right at home in Dallas. Solid defensive zone play, good pinches keeping the puck in the offensive zone and good efforts on the power play.
Chris Summers Kid is the first called up from Portland this year, so that should be worth something, right? Not sure he's going to see the ice, but that he is ahead of Brandon Gormley and Maxim Goncharov on the depth chart is something.
Keith Yandle Yandle is picking up right where he left off, with a pair of assists in the first two games. He's getting increased ice time and part of that is coming on the penalty kill where he's still learning what his role will be. I have no doubt that as with his other play, it will just improve with time.


Paul Bissonnette Only got in to the first game against San Jose and saw the ice for just 5:29 so it's hard to make much of a call on how BizNasty is playing out there just yet. With how good the Torres-Noki-O'Sullivan looked in Dallas, Biz may be staying in the press box for a few more nights.
Mikkel Boedker Boedker had an assist this week and was a -1, but I noticed him forcing the play into the offensive zone while still playing solid on the back check. He's only getting 10 minutes of ice time per game and I think we will see that number increasing soon.
Kyle Chipchura
Well, I'm not sure I really noticed Chipchura out there, and clearly he didn't do much to impress as the team placed him on waivers last night according to TSN.
Shane Doan 2 goals, 1 assist, a few penalties for just hitting guys really hard? Yeah, I'd say Captain Coyote is not feeling any bit slower now that he's turned 35. He's killing penalties, playing the point on the top power play unit - yeah, he's been the best Coyote so far.
Boyd Gordon Gordon was brought in primarily to win face-offs, particularly in tough spots on the ice. So far, he's winning 53.8% of his faceoffs. He's also looked great on the penalty kill, so I'd say this has been a good pick-up to replace Vernon Fiddler.
Martin Hanzal Fresh off his 5-year extension, Hanzal is playing over 22 minutes per night, getting into the dirty areas on the power play, killing penalties and generally playing the type of solid game that we are used to seeing from him.
Lauri Korpikoski Korpedo has shown some flashes, but I'm not sure that he's quite found a fit with his new linemates. While he is still getting penalty kill time and I've seen him out there on the power play as well. We will just have to see if he can start putting some pucks in the net or some assists up as the offense gets settled.
Daymond Langkow Have been enjoying watching the chemistry between Langkow, Doan and Whitney develop so far. They have consistently been the best unit for the Coyotes and with Langkow winning 55.9% of his faceoffs, he's helping the Coyotes control play when he's on the ice. Had an assist this past week and I'd expect that we're going to see a bunch more as they get going.
Petteri Nokelainen Noki was a scratch in the first game and only had about 9 minutes of ice time in Dallas, but he looked quick out there and played a pretty solid game, if unremarkable.
Patrick O'Sullivan After a great camp, it was a bit surprising that POS was on the bench for opening night. I thought he looked solid in Dallas even if he only played 11:40 and only recorded a single shot. He can be a wild card for this team and it would be nice to see him start to show the spark he showed in the preseason.
Taylor Pyatt
Pyatt is filling the wing position with Hanzal and Vrbata this year and I'm not sure it's the best use of Pyatt. He's best when he's driving to the net and putting the garbage in, but Hanzal also plays that role on the unit. It might work better pairing him with Boedker and POS and letting him play the game that he did so well with Fiddler and Korpi last year.
Raffi Torres A gritty, if fairly unspectacular few games for Torres, who is only getting about 10 minutes of ice time per night and is a -1. But he hasn't taken a penalty, or made a questionable hit or any of a number of things that concerned people about Torres, so that's good, right?
Kyle Turris
Yeah, he hasn't played and he's not even under contract, but has anyone (save Blake Wheeler) done more to piss off this fanbase by just being disinterested in being here? I still think Turris is too good an asset to give up for nothing, but I'm just not understanding what is going on with this situation at all.
Radim Vrbata Vrbata had the lone goal in Dallas (although he was stopped on his patented shootout move later in the game) and had an assist in San Jose. In two games, Vrby has 7 shots which is what I want to see for the entire season.
Ray Whitney The Wizard just seems ageless out there controlling the play on the power play (which looks much improved) and creating solid scoring opportunities on his line with Doan and Langkow.