Coyotes’ death march continues in Nashville
It’s tempting to close the coffin lid on the Coyotes’ season. So many teams have rolled over Phoenix the past two weeks that an open-casket wake seems macabre.
The problem is, the Stars keep bringing around that darned defibrillator and forcing us to stare at this gasping, ugly mess for a few more days.
The latest stop on the Coyotes’ determined death march was a 2-0 loss in Nashville against a team that had just been eliminated from playoff contention in its previous game, a team with nothing to play for but pride, a team that showed far more of that cliched commodity than the team supposedly still in the playoff hunt.
"The roller coaster continues," said coach Dave Tippett, whose team extended its season-worst losing streak to six games. "Obviously, we need help now."
Roller coasters are filled with thrills. The only thing close to a high the Coyotes have experienced in the last two weeks is the knowledge that they still have a pulse, albeit a faint one.
The Stars can end it by sewing up the Western Conference’s eighth and final playoff seed with a win over the slumping Blues on Friday in Dallas. That would render Phoenix’s final two games meaningless, and what a depressing back-end bookend that would be to a season that began with the re-signing of Tippett, GM Don Maloney and goalie Mike Smith, the addition of Mike Ribeiro and the sale of the club to IceArizona.
If Dallas somehow loses again, the Coyotes will need a point against San Jose on Saturday to make Sunday’s finale with the Stars at Jobing.com Arena meaningful. If Dallas gets one point against St. Louis, the Coyotes will need two against the Sharks.
Of course, you actually need to score to get points. The Coyotes and their annual $32.6 million worth of top-nine forwards can’t buy goals of late. Phoenix has scored seven goals during this six-game skid and has been shut out twice.
On Thursday, the Coyotes mustered 29 shots on Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, but most were from the perimeter, and from the tail end of the first period deep into the second, Phoenix went an alarming 17:11 without a shot.
"We didn’t generate enough chances to give ourselves a chance to score," Tippett said. "It’s as simple as that."
There will be plenty of time to dissect this team’s shortcomings in the rapidly approaching offseason, but it is clear — painfully clear, like it was at the fruitless trade deadline — that this team needs an offensive upgrade and perhaps an offensive overhaul of some of the dead weight that has been dragging this club down since the buzz of those first two months of the season wore off.
"If you want to go through the opportunities we’ve had in the last six games where the puck hasn’t gone in," captain Shane Doan said before listing a couple. "… There’s been lots of that, but it doesn’t really matter. Being close doesn’t count."