The Phoenix Coyotes beat people not by having better talent, but by being more disciplined, having a great goaltender, and generating scoring opportunities from being buttoned up in their zone.
The Coyotes Way is a defense-first system that demands discipline with the puck as well as getting a body on somebody. As soon as the Coyotes don’t adhere to the rules of their system they’re at the mercy of their opponent’s talent level.
Monday night’s game against the Avalanche (3-2, OT) was an impressive win, but the Coyotes looked really bad in their end. They were turning it over, not controlling the slot, people were in front of Mike Smith, they were getting caught on the fly, and this translated into multiple scoring opportunities for the Colorado. They just looked sloppy, and we’re not used to seeing Dave Tippett’s team play anything but buttoned up hockey.
They allowed 16 shots on goal in the first period and 32 after two periods. That’s just way too many pucks being thrown at the net for a Tippett team. This game could have been out of control if Mike Smith wasn’t playing well.
I believe they’re in the process of turning it around but have a long way to go before they resemble the team that went to the Western Conference Finals last season.