The Phoenix Coyotes got off to an impressive start to the 2013-14 season by beating the New York Rangers, 4-1. They’ve since hit a rough patch in their last two games, losing by a combined score of 10-2. Head coach Dave Tippett isn’t concerned yet, though, and is focused on correcting the team’s recent poor play.
“We gave up some bad goals and what’s happening right now is we’re making some mistakes, especially early in the game to put ourselves down,” Tippett told Arizona Sports 620’s Dan Bickley Show with Vince Marotta. “They really are mistakes that shouldn’t be made and we’ve got to correct those mistakes to make sure we hang around games and find ways to win instead of beating ourselves.”
Tippett said that the two losses, Saturday night in San Jose and Tuesday in New York against the Islanders, were very different in how the results happened. In the Sharks game, Tippett said the 4-1 score – which was aided by an empty netter – didn’t nearly show how badly the Sharks outplayed Phoenix.
On the other hand, Tippett felt the 6-1 blowout to the Islanders was closer than the score showed, but a bad start and a few unlucky breaks ultimately cost his squad.
“There were some parts to the game, that I thought we were alright, there’s just some critical areas,” Tippett said. “We’ve got to clean up some of the messes.”
One of the messes is holding onto the puck, something Tippett stressed to his team before Tuesday’s game, but his players were unable to execute.
“We talked about going in and playing a real solid road game, not turning the puck over,” Tippett said. “The first minute of the game, we turned over one to Tavares, who gets a chance. Second minute of the game, we turned it over twice.”
To add to those mistakes, the team committed two penalties in a short span, putting them down two men and Islanders’ captain John Tavares was able to capitalize to make the score 2-0 after one period.
“Those things right there,” Tippett said. “The rest of the parts of the game we were alright in, but you make two critical mistakes at the wrong time and you get behind and you get chasing.”
In order to help turn things around, the Coyotes sent down two young forwards, Chris Brown and Lucas Lessio, to the AHL and recalled forwards Tim Kennedy and Brandon Yip, both veteran players.
“We sent the two kids back that don’t have a lot of experience,” Tippett explained. “When things are ugly around, young players tend to recede back in and let the veterans take over. We’re not in a place right now, well I mean the veterans have to take over, but we have to make sure that we have people that can contribute.”
The Coyotes are also expected to get defensemen Rostislav Klesla and Derek Morris back this week, which Tippett thinks will be big for their penalty killing unit. Forward Paul Bissonnette’s suspension is also completed, possibly giving the team another experienced weapon to help right the ship.
Phoenix still has three games left on its transnational road trip, with back-to-back games on Thursday and Friday versus the Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers before wrapping up the trip on Sunday against the Carolina Hurricanes.
A long road trip can be tough at any point in the season, but there can be an added difficulty right at the beginning of the year. Tippett, however, looked as the stretch as an opportunity.
“Every schedule you set up, you look at the challenges in it,” Tippet said. “When you look at the challenges or you find the challenges in it, you try to use that as a motivating factor. We’ve talked about this trip, how it important it is. Obviously the first two games haven’t been near to how we wanted it, but there’s time to salvage that.”