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The Five for Howling Roundtable: What's Wrong With the Coyotes?

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Greetings Phoenix Coyotes fans.  This week we are mixing things up and focusing on the Coyotes current playoff series with the Detroit Red Wings.  We've moved to a dinette table for this week's edition as it is just Jordan and myself this time around.

While the Coyotes special teams  struggles were documented during the season and mentioned by multiple people in last week's Roundtable, the team had excelled during even strength play during the season.  Any thoughts on why they have struggled during with it thus far in the postseason?

Jordan  - Truth of the matter, there's no real reason for it that I can say other than they have gotten away from their style of play. The Coyotes are devoted to a pack mentality and during the regular season any of the top three lines seemed capable of playing against any unit from the opposing team. Now, it seems as if they are struggling so hard to play the way that Shane Doan has (which is fabulous) that they are losing track of the right style of play that got them this far. This has been particularly true of the Vernon Fiddler - Taylor Pyatt - Lee Stempniak unit which hasn't really been much of a factor in the games.

Carl - Too many of the players have played passive.  I'm not talking about not hitting.  I'm talking about not being aggressive.  They appear intimidated which makes little sense since they had shown an ability to play with the Wings the last two seasons.

Which Coyote skater has impressed you the most during the playoffs so far? Which has been the most disappointing?

Jordan - Hard to say anyone but Shane Doan - he's been simply incredible. Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata have been pretty solid as well, playing strong defense and adding a couple goals and offensive presence. As for the disappointments, as we are limiting this to skaters, Ed Jovanovski is first and foremost in my mind. It seems clear that he's running at less than 100% and that's just not working against a highly skilled Detroit team. This was no more evident than right before the first goal in game 3 when Darren Helm (a guy significantly smaller than Jovo) was able to knock Jovo four feet off the puck in order to steal the puck and make the pass to set up the goal. Jovo wouldn't still be wearing the cage unless he was still recovering and it's clear that those few games he got in before the end of the regular season didn't get him back to game shape. Hopefully Derek Morris will be back tonight and can shore up a shaky defensive line.

Carl - Most impressive would be the Captain.  He's taken  a penalty or two that he shouldn't have, but besides that he's been consistent from shift to shift and has been the Yotes best player by far in every zone.  I also think Radim Vrbata and Taylor Pyatt have played well.  Both are going to the net and trying to create scoring chances.  The issue has been the play of their linemates.  I'm not totally convinced Martin Hanzal is 100%.  Vern Fiddler is having his second straight disappointing postseason.  However, the most disappointing has been Keith Yandle. If you had told me before the series that a young Coyote would have struggled I wouldn't have been surprised.  Of course, I'd have have figured it would be Kyle Turris.  Turris has actually played fairly well.  Yandle, on the other hand, has looked timid in all three zones and his slow decision making has been costly.  I think Bryz's struggles have overshadowed Yandle's poor play. 

Do you believe any lineup changes would have made a difference in the results of the first three playoff games against the Red Wings?

Jordan - As I said above, I think Derek Morris would have made a difference on the defensive end. I'm also not entirely sold on what Andrew Ebbett brought to the lineup. When Ebbett is playing his best, he's winning lots of faceoffs and playing decently on the penalty kill. Ebbett hasn't really been taking faceoffs and is barely even noticeable on the penalty kill or otherwise. Paul Bissonnette was actually playing very well with Turris in the final few games (clearing space, drawing penalties) and it would have been nice to see him get a shot at playing this series - maybe tonight.

Carl - I have been surprised Coach Tippet didn't stick with the 4th line that was playing well down the stretch.  As Jordan mentioned, Paul Bissonnette had been playing well.  However, that one small change on the 4th line wasn't going to make the difference given that the Coyotes struggles have been widespread. 

What do you feel the Coyotes need to do in Game 4 in order to send the series back to Detroit?

Jordan - Just tighten up the play, stop chasing it so much (particularly Datsyuk) and for god's sake don't get imitated by the Red Wings just because they are the Wings. It would be nice to see Bryz play the way he's capable of and just compete with this team the way they did during the regular season.

Carl - A sustained forecheck to keep the play more in the Wings zone.  Bryz needs to play better than he has to date.  Better decision making when making passes.  In a nutshell, no more passive play.