GLENDALE, Ariz. — Well, at least the Coyotes don’t have a goalie controversy brewing. Everything else? Bleak. Rock-bottom bleak.
The Coyotes found out just how far they are from elite status when the red-hot Ducks blitzed them for three second-period goals to post a thorough 5-3 whipping Saturday at Jobing.com Arena. The score was only that close because of two late and ultimately meaningless Phoenix goals.
"Right now, we’re not very good, and we haven’t been very good for a while," captain Shane Doan said. "We’ve been fooling ourselves with finding ways to come back and get points."
There were no such concerns on Saturday after Anaheim built a 5-1 lead early in the third period — and chased goalie Thomas Greiss after two periods. The NHL-leading Ducks (73 points) are 16-1-1 since the start of December, they have won six straight and they own an NHL-best (by far) 15-5-1 record when the opponent scores first. There isn’t another team with a .500-or-better record.
On the flip side, the Coyotes are just 3-7-2 in their past 12 home games after a 9-0-1 start. And after a torrid 14-4-3 start to the season, Phoenix is 7-10-6 and has fallen out of a playoff position in the Western Conference.
"I think sometimes you get in funks where you’re kind of out of sorts. We’re out of sorts right now," coach Dave Tippett said. "There’s ebbs and flows to the season that you’ve got to manage. That’s the biggest thing. We have to manage those things better, and that’s the one area of our game this year that I think has been different than in the past. We haven’t been able to manage games and persevere. We’ve shown glimpses of it, but not long term."
For most of this season, the Coyotes’ main bugaboos have been defensive-zone breakdowns, turnovers and soft goals against. Those were all present again on Saturday, but Phoenix has added a new and recent wrinkle with its inability to score.
The Coyotes have managed three goals or fewer in seven of their last nine games. Those inadequacies were the launching point for a rash of accountability speeches that started with captain Shane Doan.
"There’s so much blame to go around right now for everybody," Doan said. "We can point your finger at myself, at (Mike Ribeiro) and (Radim Vrbata), at Marty (Hanzal) at (Mikkel Boedker), (Antoine) Vermette and the guys up front that get the majority of the ice time. You can point it right through at everybody."
Yandle echoed those thoughts after a minus-3 performance on Saturday left him minus-6 in his last two games.
"I turned one over and then they scored after it. I’ve been terrible, so I take a lot of the blame for that," he said. "I’m not helping my team win. I’ve got to get back to doing things right and help my team win games."
Tippett joined the fray when asked if he feels like he has few options for shaking this team up.
"We have to get the players that are here to play much better before you can justify doing something else," he said. "If I walked in here and said every player I think is just maxing right out, then you say, ‘Hey, maybe we’ve got to make some changes.’
"But until we get the players to max out, which is my job and what we’re supposed to be doing, that’s as far as I look right now."
The Coyotes won’t practice Sunday before hitting the road for a two-game trip to Winnipeg and St. Louis on Monday and Tuesday. But they play four games this week. It won’t take long to find out if accountability extends from words to actions.