Phoenix Coyotes: One Month in the Season, They Remain 'A Work in Progress'
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All is not sitting well with Dave Tippett.
The Phoenix Coyotes coach, after enjoying a spectacular rise in the fortunes of the National Hockey League a year ago, has fallen on difficult times.
Despite two recent weekend wins over Calgary and St. Louis, the Coyotes remain in the bottom half of the NHL's Western Conference. Coming into their current three game road trip through western Canada, beginning Wednesday night, Phoenix had 19 standing points, 5 points behind the division leader Los Angeles Kings, and tied with with Colorado with those 19 points.
Suffering through a scoring a drought among key players through the first month of the season, the Coyotes, in recent games, appear to getting more production from these important players. Still, that has caught Tippett's attention.
"I would consider ourselves a work in progress," he said after last Saturday's 5-3 over St. Louis at Jobing.Com Arena. "We still have a long ways to go. We're trying to find people to fit in the right roles."
Though the Coyotes seem to get goals in bunches, there appears to be an immediate need to get a more consistent production. Both Vernon Fiddler and Ray Whitney had not scored previously to last weekend. Yet, both managed impressive feats.
Fiddler picked up his first NHL "hat trick" in a victory over Calgary Friday night, and Whitney turned the trick the next night against the Blues. That marked the first time that the Coyotes had "hat tricks" in consecutive games since Jeremy Roenick picked up three against New Jersey on Nov. 25, 1999 and repeated the three goal effort Nov. 26, 1999 against Colorado.
Defenseman Ed Jovanovski also scored a "hat trick" Nov. 3 against Nashville, the only defenseman in franchise history to pick up three in a game.
"Opportuntistic," is the way Whitney described his three goal night. "I'm starting to get some bounces, and just waiting to get going."
Still, the road ahead appears long and winding. Coming into the western swing, with stops in Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver, the Coyotes managed to string consecutive wins together only once this hockey season.
"It's about guys staying together," said defenseman Keith Yandle. "We're starting to do some good things now, and see if we can keep it going."
After the three games in Canada, the Coyotes return for a two game home stand against Edmonton (Nov. 23), and Anaheim (Nov. 27).
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