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Phoenix Coyotes Roundtable: offense, defense and Tim Horton's

The FFH staff discusses the Coyotes' recent offensive and defensive struggles as well as the new Tim Horton's stand at Arena.

Doug Pensinger
Was Connor Murphy's demotion the right decision or should he have been shuffled down lower in the lineup?

Brendan Porter: Murphy's contract is probably the easiest one to move given Michalek's impending return. I thought he played quite well in his first stint with the parent club, but toward the end it started to become clear that he wasn't quite ready to spend a full season playing minutes with Oliver Ekman-Larsson. So ultimately, I think it's the right decision, and I look forward to seeing him again in the future.

Jordan Ellel: I think so. As Tippett said to Todd Walsh the other day, his play really dropped off over the past few weeks. And that's fine because he's still 20 years old and there are going to be growing pains. That he's developed to be the type of player that he is already is a great sign for the future, but having him play some lower-pressure minutes in the AHL to keep working on his game is the right decision for him at this time.

Carl Pavlock: Yes. I was extremely impressed by him but he still needs some time to develop a little more. When Z got hurt and he got paired with OEL, I think some of the rookie mistakes he was making became a little more noticeable. With that being said, some more development time may be helpful. I think he is extremely close to a full time roster stop but some time in the AHL will definitely be a benefit for him.

Is the (potentially) imminent return of Zbynek Michalek the cure for whatever it is that currently ails the Coyotes defense?

Jordan: Z will add stability to a defense that has been more than a little beleaguered so far this season. He's obviously just one man, but his shot blocking and general ability to shutdown the other team's top units and power plays will be a HUGE boon for the Coyotes when he returns to the lineup. He also should help solidify the defensive pairings, which is always a good thing.

Carl: It's not like it could hurt. Z returning the lineup will hopefully help stabilize the top-4, which would be great, and also give the Coyotes a better penalty kill. I think if the Coyotes can get the PK sorted out then they will be in good shape all around.

Brendan: Will it treat the disease? Yes. Will it cure it? Absolutely not. Phoenix's problems are not going to get solved with one defenseman returning to the lineup. It does nothing to address the continual problems of the defense giving away too much space in front of Mike Smith and not making simple outlet passes. I think the Coyotes may need to add a veteran defenseman similar to Michal Rozsival or Adrian Aucoin before we see the blueline return to form.

Are the problems with the Coyotes' offense due to Dave Tippett juggling the lines too often or because the team hasn't found the right chemistry?

Carl: I thought the Boedker-Doan-Ribeiro line had just started coming together very well so I'm not entirely sure why that line was switched up against the Blues, unless it was only to shelter Ribs who didn't play the final period against the Jets. For the other lines, I don't think they are necessarily able to find the right chemistry because coaches seem to be trying to fit players into that second line left wing role that don't fit. Until that gets completely sorted, I wouldn't be surprised to see the lines switch up every couple of games.

Brendan: As much as I love Dave Tippett and appreciate all that he's done for the team, I feel like the constantly shifting lines prevent guys from getting into any kind of rhythm. I think part of what made Radim Vrbata, Martin Hanzal and Ray Whitney so deadly in the 2011-12 season was that they played together for most of the year (and Whitney was an excellent compliment to both). Obviously Tippett has a much better sense of what each individual player needs than I do, but it does seem a little counter-productive to shuffle everything about so often.

Jordan: All coaches are going to tinker with their lines and I don't think Tippett does it too often. For the most part he sticks with unit's for entire games or weeks of games, although recently he's been juggling on the fly because the team just isn't scoring at all. I remember the Gretzky years when a unit wouldn't last for an entire period together and there was zero consistency. I think when Tippett finds guys that work well together, he lets them run out there for as long as it is working. I have no fault with his line shuffling, even if I wouldn't necessarily use his same combinations.

Tim Horton's without Timbits (or any food)--just a tease, or still the best concession vendor ever brought in to Arena (competition includes YumShack, AZ Nuts, Wetzel's Pretzels, the place that used to make fresh mini-donuts)?

Brendan: I'm a big fan of Wetzel's Pretzels, mostly because it's something you can't really find outside of shopping centers and their pretzels are vastly superior to the other ones sold in the Arena. If Tim Horton's starts offering food however, that may change.

Jordan: Probably the best concession vendor, but until they get food, they are really just a tease. I'll take the mini-donuts place as the best concession vendor because it was awesome to get freshly fried donuts and a cup of hot chocolate right before the third period to help deal with the misery that were the Gretzky-era Coyotes.

Carl: It's just a tease. I'm not really a coffee man, although I will probably get the hot chocolate in one of my future games there, but without Timbits it's just not enough. Until they get some Timbits the best concession vendor will still be the one who with the best beer quantity to quality ratio.