How to spark a winning streak


I’ve figured it out. Wayne Gretzky and company must read what I write. After all, I’ve provided them plenty of bulletin board material, and since I’ve started making fun of the Coyotes, they’ve gone on a tear. Just to recap:

-I assembled the best photos of Wayne showing his awesome coaching/anger face
-I mocked Jeremy Roenick for being an idiot
-I threw the Coyote in my “left for dead” list

So what happened in the desert besides me ripping on them left and right? Well, it’s a funny thing about those Yotes — they finally started to play to their potential.

On paper, I’ve often thought that the Coyotes had one of the strongest top-to-bottom defensive lineups in the league. While Derek Morris and Nick Boynton are having off years, they are still in theory capable of filling #2 and #3 spots, and Ed Jovanovski is at his best a true #1 defenseman. Then you have three up-and-comers with sophomores Keith Ballard and Zbynek Michalek and rookie Travis Roche.

Up front, the Yotes still aren’t impressive, though the awakening of Owen Nolan and the addition of Yanic Perrault certainly helped. Acquiring veteran Kevyn Adams will give the team some presence up the middle, but the trio of Steve Reinprecht, Perrault, and Adams isn’t going to strike fear in many teams.

So, how did the Coyotes wake up and become a team? Was it acquiring Perrault and goalie Mikael Tellqvist?Was it recovering from injuries? Was it the fear of Wayne Gretzky bursting a blood vessel and keeling over while yelling at the refs?

The answer is a little bit of everything, including fear of Gretzky keeling over. Looking at the Coyotes goalie stats, Tellqvist certainly has provided a level of stability in the crease with a not-too-shabby 7-3-2 record. More importantly, he’s the only Phoenix goalie with a goals-against under 3.00 and a save percentage over .900 (Mike Morrison takes the cake with a goals-against of 6.13 and a save percentage of .790). Cujo‘s actually playing like he did last season, with two shutouts and only one game where he gave up more than two goals.

Defensively, the team has come together, and it probably was a combination of chemistry (getting Roche into the lineup, having Jovanovski acclimate) and getting healthy (the return of Keith Ballard).

Most importantly, players like Shane Doan and Ladislav Nagy are finally realizing that they are playing in contract years and will miss out on the cash if they have subpar seasons. Doan’s stats in particular are pretty awful, but he has been hot lately with half of his 24 points coming during the big win streak. Nagy’s output hasn’t been as impressive, but he’s still got six points in his last eight games. Even creaky ol’ Owen Nolan has been putting up some points lately, though he’s just one good hit away from having his chronic back/groin/knee/everything else problems come back.

So for the Coyotes, it looks like a little bit of synchronicity — everything’s coming together at the right time. And like all good chemistry experiements, things are very delicate. If another injury hits or if Doan slows down or if Tellqvist comes back down to earth, it will be very tricky for the Coyotes to maintain their juggling act.

The real dilemma facing fans in the desert is whether or not to be really happy about this. If you’re a Phoenix Coyote fan, you know that your team has some great young defense but doesn’t have much in the cupboard other than that. Would you rather tank it now, sell off your assets, and enter a Pittsburgh-esque rebuilding mode (the kind that was supposed to happen when Keith Tkachuk was traded for Nagy)? Or would you rather claw above .500 and hope that things keep surging in hopes for the 7th/8th playoff spot?

The third option is for me to continue to mock the team and see if that somehow stirs the sports mojo and spur the team to greater heights. But I’m not a Coyotes fan, so there’s that whole conflict of interest thing going on. I can, however, accept donations if your team is struggling and needs some bulletin board material from the hockey blogosphere.


4 Responses to “How to spark a winning streak”

  1. 1 Anonymous

    Well, keep it up..since the Canucks are also winning.

  2. 2 Mike Chen

    Apparently I have the power to jinx them into a 5-1 loss to Detroit too.

  3. 3 Anonymous

    Feel free to rag on my Leafs, they need all the help they can get! 🙂 Tellqvist and Cujo must be trading funny stories about Leafs (mis)management, I bet.

  4. 4 Anonymous

    Mike –

    I’m real disappointed in you. I came here looking for more fodder castigating the desert Southwestern team of the Phoenix Coyotes, and I read positive comments?! What is up with that?!?

    Knock it off, man. Since you have opined positively about the team, they have lost two in a row, and I’m choosing to blame you. 🙂

    So, go back to the mocking – please – sneaking into the playoffs would be pretty fun.

    [insert Jim Mora impression] “Playoffs? Playoffs?!”



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