When we writers cover a game, we don’t just sit there and stare at the ice.
We talk. Generally about really unimportant topics (our weekend, personal lives, the latest video games), but sometimes we hit on a really good topic. We found a real gem on Saturday.
After Connor Murphy scored the first NHL goal of his career to give the Phoenix Coyotes a 4-1 lead over the then Eastern Conference-leading Tampa Bay Lightning, fellow writer Jaime Eisner asked, “When do we start talking about the Coyotes as an offensive team?”
I sat there for a minute. I hadn’t thought about Phoenix scoring goals in a long time. Head coach Dave Tippett’s mantra has always been “defense wins championships,” and the Coyotes have long had a reputation for being extremely stubborn in giving up goals. Heck, that’s one of the main reasons they made a deep playoff run in the 2011-12 season.
And Phoenix certainly isn’t known for dropping the big bucks on forwards. General Manager Don Maloney is an expert bargain hunter and prefers to bring in guys that fit into the team’s system rather than those that bring pure star power. He then finds a good netminder and seems to spend from the goal line out. After all, the combined cap hits of Mike Smith ($5.67 million), Oliver Ekman-Larsson ($5.5 million) and Keith Yandle ($5.25 million) comprise more than 25 percent of Phoenix’s total cap payroll.
So why are the Coyotes scoring so many more goals this season?