After losing in seven games to the Detroit Red Wings last season, the Phoenix Coyotes are not sneaking up on anyone this season. Every team in the league is now aware that the Yotes not only will outwork you, but they have the skill to beat you on a nightly basis.
Sitting at 3-3-3 early in the 2010 season it’s obvious that teams are not overlooking a Coyotes team that won 50 games last season. Also contributing to the Yotes slow start is a number of new faces that are trying to gel and find their place on the fly.
Kyle Turris, the 21-year old center who was drafted third overall in the 2007 NHL draft is entering his first full season in the league. Turris, who was picked after Patrick Kane and James Van Riemsdyk in that 2007 draft, is expected to contribute right away and understands that the pressure to produce comes with the territory.
“There is always going to be that pressure and I’m working my hardest to live up to it,” said Turris. “I’m just trying to contribute where I can.”
In the Coyotes 4-3 overtime loss last week to Carolina, Turris led the Phoenix comeback. With 5:45 left in the third period and down 3-0, Turris scored his first goal of the season on a slap shot from the right circle to beat Carolina goalie Cam Ward. Turris was not done. Just minutes later he found the back of the net again and the Yotes had life with two minutes left in the game. With under a minute to go in the contest, Turris stole the puck from Ward behind the net and found left-winger Scottie Upshall in front to tie the game at 3-3. Phoenix would lose in overtime, but Turris continued to fight all night and single handedly got the Coyotes a much-needed point. Upshall knows the kind of talent that Turris has and that sooner or later it’s all going to come together.
“Like everyone knows in this organization he is a really skilled guy and a really good kid,” said Upshall. “He has got to play his game. He has got to trust his game and I think tonight when he got his opportunities he really bared down and made two great plays.”
Like Turris, 19-year old Swedish defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who was selected sixth overall in last years NHL draft is being asked to play significant minutes this season. Ekman-Larsson is starting on the power play but has registered just one assist in his first nine games. There is no question that Ekman-Larsson is going to be a solid defensemen in this league, however, right now he making too many mistakes and the team is paying for it. Through nine games the Coyotes have been shorthanded 41 times and are only killing off penalties 83% of the time.
It is certain that the Coyotes have lots of young talent on this year’s squad. The main question is how long will it take for this talent to develop? This team has too many veterans that are hungry to make it back-to-back trips to the postseason. Head Coach Dave Tippett needs to teach quickly so that this team doesn’t fall to far behind early in the season.
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Written by Robb Patty