Not many people outside of Phoenix have noticed, but the Coyotes have slipped into a good pace as fellow overachievers-of-the-month, spurred on by a tremendous 9-0-2 record at home. Like the Avalanche, their hot start belies some poor possession numbers and puck luck falling in their favour. But unlike our side, these Coyotes haven’t been reliant on their goaltending tandem (which has been uncharacteristically mediocre despite the stifling presence of Dave Tippett’s System) so much as scoring in bunches and bunches.
Their newly active offense was on full display last night, thoroughly dominating possession and hemming the Avs into their defensive zone for much of the game. The boys in burgundy and blue picked up the pace after falling behind though, and outplaying the Coyotes for those 10 minutes proved enough to earn 2 points (granted, after the referees pretty well gift-wrapped them for us). Some pundits will point at these wins over the Blackhawks and Coyotes and say we’re keeping up with top competition, but I’d be wary until we at least stop getting outchanced twofold.
To be perfectly fair to the Avs though, the injuries to Matt Duchene and Alex Tanguay have been a heavy blow to the team’s offensive depth. The trio of Brad Malone, Marc-Andre Cliche, and Patrick Bordeleau would be a 3rd line in the AHL and it shows – their Corsi ratings over the last two games (over about 16 minutes of even strength ice time) shows that they’re bleeding shot attempts against while generating next to nothing in the other direction:
Brad Malone: 2 Corsi for, 19 against
Marc-Andre Cliche: 2 Corsi for, 20 against
Patrick Bordeleau: 1 Corsi for, 19 against
Those are ugly numbers – like, Mike Ricci ugly.
Forget about that for a moment, though – I want to talk about our esteemed opponents from last night and how they have without a doubt the best collection of names in the league. From Twitter superstar Paul Bissonnette to actual superstar Oliver Ekman-Larsson to whoever the hell Rob Klinkhammer is, I’m amazed the Coyotes aren’t instantly profitable on jersey sales alone. What about David Schlemko and Jordan Szwarz? Have the Coyotes have considered setting up a fundraiser to buy them a few vowels? Maybe 5 or 6 of these guys have names pronounceable by a human tongue, and it’s absolutely fantastic.
Their Most Interesting Team in the World status extends to how they’ve been scoring too. We know that Ekman-Larsson and Keith Yandle are brilliant at generating offense from the blueline, but how in the world does Michael Stone have 7 goals and no assists? Is he a custom player from Be A Pro with his pass button broken or something? I’m picturing a total possession black hole, with no choice but to skate around with the puck until he’s in position to shoot or is knocked off and mercifully called for a line change.
Thomas Greiss wears this on his head, which is brilliant. Martin Hanzal’s hairline speaks for itself. Mike Smith still has more goals than Alex Burrows, Ville Leino, Martin Erat, or Kyle Quincey. And David Rundblad’s perfectly sculpted face and/or body? Oh my god, pinch me.
All I’m saying here is that the Phoenix Coyotes absolutely deserve the coverage that the likes of Chicago and Pittsburgh get, and should be everybody’s favourite underdog team forever. That isn’t too much to ask, is it?