It was a strange week for the Phoenix Coyotes. It began with the high of a 6-0 victory over the Calgary Flames and ended with the low of two consecutive losses. Fans, coaches, front office staff and players are disappointed with the team's recent play, but there is still reason for optimism. The path back to winning begins away from Arizona.
Before Phoenix begins its two-game road trip, here are a few tidbits and notes from the week that was in Coyotes hockey:
- While the Coyotes sit in ninth place in the Western Conference on Monday morning, the team is still on pace to make the playoffs with 95 points.
- 95 points would be tied for the fourth highest point total in a season for the Coyotes since they moved to Arizona.
- Connor Murphy was sent down Sunday. He started strong but struggled in the last couple weeks, especially when paired with Oliver Ekman-Larsson and the difficult minutes he plays. However, I don't think Murphy has played his last game in Sedona Red this season.
- His demotion opens up a spot for Zbynek Michalek to return. David Rundblad may fill in for a game or two in the meantime.
- Speaking of Rundblad, he's often one of the last guys off the ice at practice as he puts in extra work after most of the starters depart. He is continuing to work on his game while he awaits an opportunity to shine.
- Fans should get an opportunity to see both Mike Smith and Thomas Greiss play early this week with back-to-back games on Monday and Tuesday. Despite his struggles, Smith remains the team's starter and will receive the majority of starts when healthy.
- Some interesting things to note (all numbers 5-on-5): the Coyotes posses the puck better (+1.3 Corsi for %) and shoot the puck better (+1.1 shooting %) when Greiss is in the game, but block more shots (+1.65/60) when Smith is in net.
- I wouldn't draw any major conclusions from that information as sample size is a concern, but it may help explain the perception that the team plays better in front of their back-up netminder.
- Quietly, Radim Vrbata is on pace to set a new career-high in points (63) despite missing two games this season.
- A friendly reminder: IceArizona purchased the Coyotes five months and one week ago.