The first time was a rarity.
The second an anomaly.
But if the Coyotes cap off this unusual three-game summit against the Ducks Wednesday night in Anaheim with yet another 5-4 shootout win, the tenants of their usually defensive game might as well be replaced.
“Maybe this is new Coyotes hockey,” coach Dave Tippett said with a laugh. “You never know.”
As much as a makeover would help the aesthetics of their play, which isn’t always the most attractive brand of hockey, that wouldn’t fit with the strength of their personnel, and the Coyotes recognize that.
“You have to win however you can but we know in the long run for us to be ultimately successful, we have to play better in our own zone,” captain Shane Doan said.
Their defensive tendencies should win out as the schedule inches closer to the playoffs, and what would help them regain that posture is better care with the puck in their own zone. The Ducks have feasted on turnovers during the first two games.
“We get into trouble most when we try to over-handle it,” goalie Mike Smith said. “We’re trying to make the perfect play, and it’s not one guy. It’s just the way the flow of the game goes sometimes but I think when we play Coyotes hockey — which is simple plays, make plays that are there and not try to force plays, get it in behind their D, cycle pucks, hang on to plucks, make teams take it from you instead of just throwing it into spaces where it’s a hope play more than anything — I think we’re a talented enough team.”
Regardless, the resiliency of the Coyotes to grab four points against the Pacific Division leader when the team isn’t competing to the best of its defensive ability is encouraging, especially without a healthy complement of players.
That could change soon, though. After getting center Martin Hanzal back Monday from an upper-body injury, winger Radim Vrbata could make his return Wednesday night after a seven-game hiatus with a lower-body injury. The Coyotes sent forward Chris Brown back to the American Hockey League so there is a roster spot available for Vrbata to come off injured reserve.
Coyotes’ defensive boost will bring more victories
Arizona Republic | Mar 6