After a 4-3 win on Wednesday against the Nashville Predators, the Coyotes gear up for two pivotal games this weekend. Tonight the Yotes take on the Dallas Stars who are 4-3 at home this season. After tonight’s game the team will fly back to Phoenix to take on Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday at Jobing.Com Arena.
Four points this weekend would put the Coyotes in the thick of things early on in the Pacific Division. The Yotes currently sit with 11 points, looking up at a division that is currently controlled by the Los Angeles Kings with 18 points (9-3-0).
Coyote’s defensemen Ed Jovanovski, who had yet to score this season, put the team on his back in that 4-3 win over Nashville on Wednesday. Jovanovski registered his first career hat trick in 979 career NHL games.
“It was nice to contribute offensively and it was nice to get the win,” said Jovanovski.
The Coyotes cannot keep counting on their defensemen for offensive production. I know that Head Coach Dave Tippett encourages his defensemen to jump into plays when the opportunities present themselves, but the forwards need to produce offensively.
Over the last five games here is the point production breakdown by the forwards …
Eric Belanger – 0 goals, 1 assist
Shane Doan – 0 goals, 0 assists
Scottie Upshall – 0 goals, 0 assists
Lee Stempniak – 1 goal, 1 assist
Wojtek Wolski – 0 goals, 2 assists
Ray Whitney – 0 goals, 3 assists
Radim Vrbata – 1 goal, 1 assist
Kyle Turris – 3 goals, 1 assist
Two of Kyle Turris’ three goals came in his three-point comeback performance against the Carolina Hurricanes, a game in which the Yotes lost in overtime 4-3.
On a positive note, Coach Tippett said in his post game press conference on Wednesday that the lineups were finally how he wanted them for the first time all season. Shane Doan was suspended for three games, Martin Hanzal missed six games with a lower-body injury and Ray Whitney missed a few games with an injury. Hopefully the Yotes are getting healthy and can remain healthy for the majority of the season. That continuity, especially up front, will be pivotal for Phoenix to score enough goals to win games. Its great to have scoring from your defensemen, but to rely on it is something that will not benefit this team going forward.
Coyote’s defensemen Keith Yandle would love for his fellow defensemen to contribute every night. He knows that picking up fellow teammates is part of the game.
“I mean that’s what being a part of a team is I guess,” said Yandle. “Hopefully Jovo (Ed Jovanovski) can score three every night or Aucci (Adrian Aucoin) can get three next game or myself or Mo (Derek Morris). I think that anyone would be happy with that.”
I think the Yotes blue-liners are capable of scoring and will win them six to seven games this season. That, however, will not be enough victories to make the playoffs. The forwards are healthy. Now is the time to put the puck in the net … before its too late.
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Written by Robb Patty