The red hot Phoenix Coyotes ended their seven game point streak with a 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings Monday night. The win was the Red Wings third in as many games, and the first time this season the Wings beat the surprising Phoenix Coyotes.
It seemed as though Ilya Bryzgalov, the Coyotes saving grace as of late, was just not on his game last night. Bryz faced 32 shots and stopped 29 of them, but some of those saves were courtesy of the Hockey Gods that were watching over him. There were quite a few instances where Bryzgalov wasnt sure he had the puck, and if he did, didnt know where it was. Though I think it is fair to allow the Coyotes goalie to have one of those games, seeing how this was his first game since November 23rd that Bryzgalov has allowed more then two goals in a game.
But Bryzgalov wasnt the only Coyotes player who seemed to have been missing mentally last night, as the entire team didnt look like a team that was five points out of first place in their division. The first two Red Wing goals were caused by either a defensive lapse or a poor decesion in their attacking zone during a power play.
One player, who has been an outstanding defensive forward for the Coyotes, Martin Hanzal, was the cause for the first Red Wings goal as he failed to get back and cover Kris Newbury, the most recent Red Wings call up due to a long list of injuries. Hanzal failing to cover Newbury left him wide open in front of the net and was able to simply tap in a centering pass from Kris Draper.
The second goal was caused by a bad pass by Robert Lang to Shane Doan, who was a whole five feet away from him, that bounced off the boards and on to Patrick Eaves stick. Eaves then took it the length of the ice and was able to put it passed a slightly out of position Bryzgalov, who I'm sure wishes he could have a rematch with that shot, for a 2-0 shorthanded goal. Ths is something I have been able to notice about Robert Lang, he makes very lazy plays and often they result in turnovers and last night was as perfect example of that. As a veteran player, Lang needs to fix that part of his game, but since he is reaching the end of his career and has been that type of player for some time now, it wil be a hard habit to break.
Last night was not all bad for the Coyotes, as Taylor Pyatt was able to get the Coyotes first goal past Jimmy Howard after a spectacular, never-give-up play. The Coyotes were at an advantage during the play thanks to a big, clean hit on Jonathan Ericsson, courtesy of Captain Shane Doan.
The hit by Doan was led with the shoulder, but unfortunately caught Ericsson's knee, causing him to go down in pain. Pyatt then took the puck and attempted a centering pass to Doan, unsuccessfully, and picked up his own pass to put it past a confused Howard.
The Red Wings third goal was another goal that was misplayed by Bryzgalov as Derek Meech brought the puck over the blue line and fired a knucklepuck off Bryzgalov's glove and into the net. This was the type of night Bryz was having as he seemed out of position on two of the three goals, but only out of position by an inch. But as mentioned earlier, if he can continue to allow less then 2 goals for an extended period of time, I wouldnt be too worried if he has a slightly below par game every now and then.
Radim Vrbata continued his goal scoring streak with his thrid in as many games getting a goal the deflected off Todd Bertuzzi's sprawled stick and over Howard's shoulder. Vrbata has quietly become the Coyotes go-to goal scorer, and that is something the Coyotes are in desperate need of, but he is not a player that should be held resposible for that title. But if nobody is going to step up into that position on the Coyotes, then Vrbata, I'm sure, will be up to the challenge, and will have no problem contributing on the scoreboard.
This win put the Wings in 8th place in the West and allowed them to come within one point of the Coyotes for 7th. The Yotes were left within 5 points of Los Angeles and San Jose for the Pacific division crown, but have played two game less then the Kings and one less then the Sharks. The Coyotes next game is Wednesday against the surging Toronto Maple Leafs at the ACC, where the Leafs have won their past four games at home.
About the Author
Written by Matt Shott
22 year old hockey fan born and raised in Phoenix, AZ. Weird, huh? Entire family minus myself and my brother were born in Toronto, ON so thats how I became a fan of this great sport. I have worked at Ice rinks since I was 14 and spend all day reading hockey stories. I eat, sleep, coach, play, and basically LIVE hockey. I became a Red Wing fan thanks to EA Sports NHL '95 and haven't looked back since (Why would I?). Parents were Season Ticket holders for the Phoenix Coyotes since day 1 and when they moved to Portland 3 years ago, I picked up where they left off and have found a soft spot for them. I moved to Toronto in January '10 to attend Centennial College's Sports Journalism program, so I am becoming a Maple Leafs fan in the process. Its hard to do after 16 years of being a Red Wings fan. So to recap: Wings fan at heart, Leafs fan on the outside, and always carry a soft spot for the Coyotes.