ARIZONA COYOTES

Excuses aside, Coyotes’ early season travel schedule is ridiculous

Nov 6, 2017, 6:41 AM | Updated: 6:19 pm
Arizona Coyotes center Nick Cousins, center, celebrates his goal against the Detroit Red Wings with...
Arizona Coyotes center Nick Cousins, center, celebrates his goal against the Detroit Red Wings with Arizona Coyotes right wing Mario Kempe, of Sweden, (29) and Adam Clendening (5) in the third period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

The Coyotes’ myriad issues in a 2-12-1 start have been dissected ad nauseam. Here’s one issue that hasn’t been discussed enough: their travel schedule.

The assumption by many fans is that travel schedules eventually balance out for all teams. That assumption is incorrect. Eastern Conference teams travel far fewer miles because the distance between those cities is shorter, and some teams seem to earn advantages from the league each year because of strong advocacy on the part of their ownership.

The NHL’s schedule makers did the Coyotes no such favors. It appears they stuck it to them instead.

As we noted when the Coyotes returned from their first East Coast road trip last week, Arizona will have played 33 games by Dec. 10. Twenty-one of those will have been played on the road and 16 of them will have been played in either the Eastern or Central time zones.

When the Coyotes returned home from their five-game eastern swing through the three New York area teams, Philadelphia and Detroit, they played two home games against Buffalo (Thursday) and Carolina (Saturday) with just a day’s rest in between. They hit the road again Sunday morning for another East Coast-Midwest swing through Washington (Monday) Pittsburgh (Tuesday) and St. Louis (Thursday).

They get one off day before hosting Winnipeg on Saturday, and then hit the road again for a Canadian road trip through Winnipeg, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, Nov. 14-20.

They return home for two games against Los Angeles and Vegas, Nov. 24-25, hit the road again for games at Edmonton and Calgary, Nov. 28-30. They return for one home game against New Jersey on Dec. 2, and then play four more road games at Vegas, Boston, Columbus and Chicago, Dec. 3-10.

If you know anything about sports science, you understand the toll that sort of travel and constant shifting of time zones takes on the body. Players need rest. The problem for the Coyotes is they also have another desperate need.

“We’re a young team. We need practice time and we’re not getting it,” coach Rick Tocchet noted after a loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday. “That’s not an excuse but that’s reality and we’re going to have to think of other ways as coaches to get these guys to understand the importance of how hard it is to win.”

The Coyotes need reps to work their way through the myriad flaws in their game, and the myriad fine points of a new coaching staff’s system.

“You always want practice to correct things and we haven’t had a lot of practice days,” Tocchet said. “As a coach, you want to work on 10 things but you can’t because rest is important with these young kids, too.”

In these instances, coaches resort to more video and classroom-type instructions, and that is what the Coyotes will have to do. For the remainder of November, they play two sets of back-to-back games and they have just two instances where they get two days off in between games.

Not until the Coyotes return from Chicago on Dec. 10, with the holidays approaching, will Tocchet and his staff have a genuine opportunity to give the gift of instruction.

Tocchet reiterated numerous times that he didn’t want to use the schedule as an excuse for losing, but when you compare the Coyotes’ schedule to other teams’ schedules, it’s fair to wonder what the league’s excuse is for compiling this slate.


Coyotes at Capitals

When: 5 p.m., Tuesday
Where: Capital One Arena, Washington D.C.
TV: FOX Sports Arizona
Radio: ESPN 620 AM
Records: Coyotes — 2-12-1. Capitals — 7-6-1.
Injury report: Coyotes — D Jakob Chychrun (knee) is out indefinitely. D Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper body) is on injured reserve. Capitals — F Brett Connolly (upper body) is day-to-day. F Tyler Graovac (upper body) is week-to-week. D Matt Niskanen (upper body) is on injured reserve. F Andre Burakovsky (fractured left thumb) is out.

Capitals scouting report: Washington has won two straight games. … F Alex Ovechkin leads the team with 11 goals and is tied with F Evgeny Kuznetsov for the team lead in points with 16.

Coyotes scouting report: The Coyotes recalled defenseman Joel Hanley from Tucson of the American Hockey League and he joined the team on the trip. … General manager John Chayka said Hjalmarsson would not start the trip with the team and Chychrun would not travel at all.

Comments

Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Arizona Coyotes

Arizona Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong and assistant general manager John Ferguson (Screens...
Kellan Olson

New Coyotes assistant GM attracted to team’s vision, long-term upside

The Arizona Coyotes are in a full-fledged rebuild, and the commitment to that vision excites new assistant GM John Ferguson.
18 hours ago
The NHL logo displayed behind a hockey net during intermission between the Montreal Canadiens and t...
Associated Press

NHL expects 98% of players to be vaccinated before season

The NHL estimates 98% of players will be vaccinated on the league's 32 teams across North America.
18 hours ago
Executive Director of Player Personnel John Ferguson Jr. attends the 2014 NHL Entry Draft at Wells ...
Sam Graveline

Coyotes name John Ferguson assistant GM, GM of Tucson Roadrunners

Arizona Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong named John Ferguson assistant General Manager and General Manager of the Tucson Roadrunners on Wednesday.
18 hours ago
@ArizonaCoyotes/Twitter...
Sam Graveline

Coyotes to play in ‘Kraft Hockeyville’ preseason game in El Paso

The Coyotes are heading to El Paso, Texas, to take on the Dallas Stars in a preseason game on Oct. 3 as a part of Kraft Hockeyville USA 2020.
2 days ago
Ottawa 67's Associate Coach Mario Duhamel talks to the media after Ontario Hockey League action bet...
Tom Kuebel

Coyotes add Mario Duhamel, confirm 3 others to 2021-22 coaching staff

The Coyotes announced the hiring of new assistant coach Mario Duhamel and the return three other assistant coaches.
4 days ago
Photo by luiscolato.com...
Associated Press

Tech data shows Arizona’s busy sports gambling activity

"Arizona ... had more wagered online than mature states like Michigan, Colorado and Tennessee at the FanDuel Sportsbook,” a spokesman said.
4 days ago
Excuses aside, Coyotes’ early season travel schedule is ridiculous