GLENDALE, Ariz. — It’s hard to tell who will benefit more from this four-day rest: the Coyotes or coach Dave Tippett.
The first two months of the season have forced the Coyotes to play a league-high 18 road games, a league-low 12 home games (both marks are tied with Colorado) and six sets of back-to-back games. In that span, the team has shown its coach the maddening inconsistency indicative of a young club and franchise in transition.
The Coyotes have displayed that inconsistency in streaks, like the three-game home winning streak they had in late November, followed by a five-game road-losing streak in early December. They have also displayed it in games, like Saturday’s 5-4, overtime loss to Carolina in which they spotted the Hurricanes a 4-1 lead, rallied to tie the game in regulation, then lost it on Victor Rask’s goal 53 seconds into the extra period.
“I don’t like that we’re behind but I like that we have the giddyup to try to get back in it,” Tippett said of his team’s effort. “We have a lot of work to do.”
There is finally time for that work. The Coyotes don’t play again until Thursday when Columbus comes to town for the third game of this five-game homestand. While the bad news is that Arizona was swept in a two-game series by a team that will likely finish near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the good news is that the Coyotes took three out of a possible four points on a back-to-back home set that came on the heels of a tiring nine-day road trip.
When Saturday’s games ended, they still found themselves in second place in the Pacific Division. Rookie Anthony Duclair played a big role in putting them there, scoring his ninth and 10th goals of the season while defenseman Connor Murphy drew Arizona even with 16 seconds remaining in regulation with his second goal of the season to earn Arizona that point.
“We wanted to have a rebound game, especially our line,” Duclair said of himself, Viktor Tikhonov and Max Domi. “Yesterday we didn’t do too much so it was good for us to get on the board.”
While the Coyotes will benefit from a day off on Sunday, Tippett believes there is equal value in the teaching he and his staff can finally offer next week.
“I think the practice time is as valuable,” he said. “Tuesday we’re going to have a full special teams days. Our penalty kill has been pretty good although tonight it gave up a couple, but we’ve got to continue to pound away at this power play. We need it to generate more for us.”
The Coyotes went 0 for 2 on the power play against Carolina and have scored just 16 power-play goals in 109 chances (14.7 percent) while allowing a league-high seven shorthanded goals. Their power play is ranked 29th in the NHL.
Tippett noted that a pair of Carolina power-play goals — one late in the first and one early in the third period — were critical goals in Saturday’s game, but his attention won’t be limited to the Coyotes’ special teams when they reconvene for practice next week.
“Name a whole bunch of them,” he said. “And then put all of the above at the bottom.”
- Late no-call sinks Arizona Coyotes’ hopes in Nashville
- Coyotes surrender lead late, fall in shootout to Predators
- Succession plan: Fischer could be Coyotes’ next great power forward
- Coyotes’ Rick Tocchet on Duclair’s departure: ‘It just didn’t click’
- Arizona Coyotes’ rally falls short against San Jose Sharks