To the point, that’s the method Phoenix Coyotes coach Dave Tippett desires his team to play. Like most coaches, he looks for a complete effort and fundamentals stressed.
Over a 10-day period in mid-January, the Coyotes experienced those moments of despair at home which teams dread. A significant lesson for Phoenix, since the calendar rolled into 2011, is hockey is a solid 60-minute game and demands a continuous effort. If there is one game which characterized this approach, that might be the final home game before the All-Star break.
Up 2-0 against the lowly Edmonton Oilers Jan. 25, the Coyotes surrendered three unanswered tallies and eventually dropped a 4-3 decision before 10,057 at Jobing.com Arena. The loss was the Coyotes' fourth straight on home ice to that point, and the Oilers won for only the third time in their past 17 games.
“It’s obvious we need to turn things around at home,” said center Kyle Turris, who chipped in with a goal and an assist in the Oilers game. “At this point, we need to simplify things, play our game and stick within our system.”
Coming into the Jan. 25 game, the Oilers had dropped seven of their previous eight, and were dead last in the Western Conference. Still, that did not prevent Edmonton from mounting a spirited comeback.
“We’re about professional pride and opportunity,” Oilers coach Tom Renney said. “These guys want to be part of something special, and anything we do is an opportunity. We don’t get down, keep playing hard, and do our best to make things happen.”
That appeared to be the opposite of what the Coyotes were doing these days. While the back checking was suspect against the Oilers and the defense was weak in the neutral zone, Edmonton took advantage of controlling the transition game. That opened up the rink, and the Oilers responded with three unanswered goals to take the lead early in the final period.
Then, Scottie Upshall banged in his second of the game, and team-high-tying 14th of the season, at 8:29 to deadlock matters at 3-3 before the Oilers’ Dustin Penner jammed in the game-winner with 21.3 seconds remaining.
“Very disappointing,” Tippett said. “We didn’t do enough to win, and just a poor performance on our part. We did not defend, and that requires attention to detail. We didn’t do that and it’s just plain disappointing.”
It was not the way Tippett and the Coyotes wanted to go into the All-Star break. They have one more moment of redemption before intermission, and that’s Jan. 26 against the Avs at Colorado.
Phoenix defenseman Keith Yandle was added to the All-Star Game this Sunday in Raleigh. He replaces Tobias Enstrom of Atlanta. He expressed a range of emotions when told by Don Maloney, the Coyotes general manager, after the morning skate Jan. 25.
“I was pretty surprised and pretty happy when [Maloney] told me,” he said. “I was surprised to know [Enstrom] had backed out.”
Yandle, who leads the Coyotes in scoring, picked up two assists against Edmonton Jan. 25, and tied Nicklas Lidstrom of Detroit at 42 points for second in scoring among defensemen. Both now trail Lubomir Visnovsky of Anaheim by one point. Yandle scored in eight straight games through Jan. 25.
With a goal and assist, Turris picked up his first two-point game since Oct. 23 when he scored twice at home against Carolina and added an assist in that game.
After the All-Star break, the Coyotes open at San Jose Feb. 1, and then play six of their next seven games on home ice.