Coyotes need jolt, Barroway deal could help
The NHL Board of Governors in the next week is expected to approve the 51 percent sale of the Coyotes to Philadelphia hedge fund manager Andrew Barroway.
It can't come soon enough.
The Coyotes are 2-3-1 through six games, not an unmanageable record so early in the season but a bit more troubling when you look at the early returns elsewhere in the Western Conference.
If you concede Chicago, Los Angeles, Anaheim, St. Louis and San Jose are playoff locks -- and virtually everyone does -- that leaves three playoff spots up for grabs in the West.
Vancouver just won in St. Louis and the Sedins look revived alongside former Coyote Radim Vrbata (four goals, seven points). Nashville is the only team in the NHL without a loss in regulation after its 3-2 win over Chicago on Thursday. Dallas is scoring like everyone thought it would after the Stars signed Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky in the offseason. Minnesota has posted three shutouts already and has allowed the fewest goals in the NHL (four) by far. And Calgary has used grit, toughness and Jonas Hiller's goaltending to get off to a surprising start in Brad Treliving's first year as GM after leaving Arizona.
Where does that leave the Coyotes? Right down with Winnipeg, Edmonton and rapidly regressing to the mean Colorado.
PANTHERS AT COTOTES
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: Gila River Arena, Glendale
TV: FOX Sports Arizona
Radio: ESPN 620 AM
Records: Florida 2-2-2; Arizona 2-3-1
Injury report: Arizona C Martin Hanzal (lower body) and F David Moss (upper body) are day to day. Florida C Dave Bolland (lower body) is out.
Quick facts: Former Coyote Al Montoya has a .974 save percentage and a 0.59 goals against average in two games for Florida. ... Roberto Luongo will start in goal for Florida. ... The Panthers are tied for the league-low in goals with nine in six games. F Brad Boyes leads the team with two goals and four points.
Barroway is expected to immediately invest $15 million back into the team. So too are the other members of the IceArizona ownership group for a total of $30 million.
The increased capital is expected to have a significant impact on payroll. That would help, since the Coyotes are near the bottom of the league in actual spending, especially when you factor in the fact that half of Martin Erat's salary is being paid by the Washington Capitals.
There is no guarantee GM Don Maloney will be able to swing any deals right away to help the club. In fact, it's unlikely there are many deals to be had this early in the season. Free agency and the trade deadline would be the times to acquire those pieces.
But if there are any -- and Maloney will know because he is working the phones -- the Coyotes might want to pull the trigger to shake things up.
Six games are not enough to form definitive judgments, but there is nothing in the team's early-season play to suggest that the preseason fears were ill-founded.
The veteran core the team went to war with this season is not delivering. It's not just goalie Mike Smith, who rebounded nicely against the Wild on Thursday. There are issues up and down the Coyotes lineup. Their forwards aren't playing a strong possession game and they're not scoring.
The defense lacks a physical presence to calm things down in the Coyotes zone and make life harder on opponents. Even budding star Oliver Ekman-Larsson has been inconsistent.
About the only area that is clicking is the Coyotes special teams play. The power play ranks fourth in the NHL at 27.3 percent. The penalty kill is only 17th at 81.8 percent, but if you recall, all four of the power play goals Arizona has allowed came in one game against St. Louis.
So what will the team do once Barroway assumes power? It's a question everyone can't wait to ask. Will Maloney start dealing? Will the GM recall some younger players from the minors to deliver a message to the current cast? Whatever it is, it sure feels like the Coyotes need some sort of kick in the pants to avoid a fatal start.