LOS ANGELES – No offense, but this is getting offensive – just not the right kind of offensive.
By now you know the particulars. The Coyotes were shut out for the third straight road game in Monday’s 4-0 loss to the Kings, bringing their scoreless streak to 194 minutes and five seconds: the third longest streak in franchise history according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Sure, the Kings were looking for payback at Staples Center after the Coyotes ambushed them one week ago at Jobing.com Arena in L.A.’s third game in four nights. Sure, L.A. goalie Jonathan Quick was brilliant, turning aside all 27 Phoenix shots for his first shutout of the season.
But the way things are going for the Coyotes right now, all goalies look like Peter from Family Guy and all nets look like pool skimmers.
“It’s obvious we’re fighting it a little bit right now,” said forward Raffi Torres, who had one of the best chances of the night trickle into the crease before Kings defenseman Drew Doughty swept it from harm’s way.
At least the Coyotes were fighting. They got more traffic to the net and, after the expected fast start from L.A., the Coyotes started generating chances of their own.
“We looked more desperate around the net.” Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. “There was lots of push there. I’m more upset at giving them an early lead on power plays than our chances not going in. We’ve just got to get some luck.”
Too many of those penalties were offensive-zone penalties, the kind that raise the hackles on a coach’s back. And when you’re facing a red-hot power play on the road no less, that’s a recipe for disaster.
L.A.’s first two goals two goals came on the power play – one from Jake Muzzin (eight points in his last eight games) and career-goal No. 1 from Tyler Toffoli. In its last six games, L.A. is 7 for its last 17 on the power play and 12 for 39 over its last 12 games.
“For tomorrow, we’ve got to stay out of the box,” said Torres, whose club faces the Kings again on Tuesday at Staples in another twist of this bizarro lockout schedule. “You can’t give a team like them that much (power play) time. They’ve got a lot of firepower out there. They showed it tonight.”
It’s tempting to sound the alarm on the playoff chase with the Coyotes now sitting in ninth place with the brunt of their schedule still to be played away from home, where they are 3-7-3 – the sixth-worst mark in the league.
But the truth is, with 19 games remaining and all of those to be played against Western Conference teams, there is still plenty of time to sort this out. The more troubling concern is that, after 29 games, Phoenix may have established its identity – one that no team wants.
Not that anybody inside the locker room was ready or willing to entertain that notion. All that mattered was was this scoring drought and tomorrow’s game.
“It happens every year and you just have to find a way through it. We’ll find it,” captain Shane Doan said. “That’s the best part of the NHL. Right back at it tomorrow. No time to think about the past.”