Sunday, October 19, 2008

Too Much Too Soon?

Coming into this year, Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney believed this year's Coyote team would challenge for a playoff spot and would get in. There are a couple of reasons why. 
The acquisition of Olli Jokinen at the draft was the first time a legitimate number one center had been in Phoenix for a long time. He was brought in to be the spark for Shane Doan and Peter Mueller who both had good years last year and make them better. So far he has played well with 6 points, 1 goal 5 assists, in only 5 games. I am sure they would like for him to put up some more goals but I am sure Jokinen knows that. 
Having a number one goaltender to start the season was another reason. Getting Ilya Bryzgalov off waivers was a divine miracle for the Coyotes who were looking at a great future in net. Bryz had a good year last year with the Coyotes going 26-22 with a 2.43 GAA and a .921 save percentage and was a reason that the Maloney and company were excited about this coming year. Having a legitimate number one goaltender for the first time since Nikolai Khabibulin was in net for Phoenix is important, especially in a tough division like the Pacific. 
Other reasons include the young players like Kyle Turris coming in along with returning players like Peter Mueller, Shane Doan, Dan Carcillo and so on.
But have the expectations been stacked too high? The Coyotes started off the season with two good wins versus the Blue Jackets and the Ducks but have really lost it on this road trip losing to the Blackhawks, Senators, and Canadiens. Of course, those are three very tough teams and losing to them is not a shame. However, the Coyotes were seriously run over in these games, losing 4-1, 6-3, and 4-1 respectively. The lack of offense is something that needs to be addressed and defense as well. Teams are getting way too many good chances against the Coyotes defense and is making it very hard for goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov to keep them in games like he did last season. 
One thing that has certainly picked up is the physicality and toughness of this team. Shane Doan has been an animal recently and physical play from guys like Kurt Sauer is destroying the notion of the Coyotes as push overs (Yes Habs fans, Sauer's check was clean). 
The point here is that management needs to understand that this team is very young and it will take time to gel. The season is still very new so the panic button should certainly not be in sight but if things continue the way they are going, look for Don Maloney to be looking towards the draft and acquire some draft picks for veteran players such as Steven Reinprecht, Derek Morris and Mikael Tellqvist at the deadline. 
The tough schedule continues for the Coyotes as they come home for the Capitals, Flames, Penguins, and Wild. I hate to be a negative Nancy but the season for these young guys could be over by the All Star break at this rate. 

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