The Arizona Coyotes have now lost four times this season. While the losses to the New York Rangers and the New York Islanders were close and gave fans hope, their loss against the Los Angeles Kings on Friday (Oct. 27) completely let fans down as the home team lost 5-4. Here are some takeaways from Friday evening.
The Defense Needs Fixing
If there was any way to sum the loss up in a few words, it would be the defense failed. The blue line did not look good at all, as their plus/minus stats went from a lot of positives to a lot of negatives. The Coyotes couldn’t clear the puck out of their own zone, leading goaltender Karel Vejmelka to fend off 39 shots without anyone in front to help him out. The Coyotes knew that they were facing a good Kings team but couldn’t end up keeping up with them.
“The frustrating part is we expected a push. It’s a good team over there,” defenseman Sean Durzi said. “They’re a playoff-caliber team. I know those guys over there. They’re not just gonna give us the game on a Friday night like that. It’s not going to be handed to us. I think we expected it. The tough part is we didn’t do well with it. I thought they kind of did a good job in the second period playing aggressively, and it picked us apart a bit, and they got a few. That’s how it goes.”
It’s not like LA was in the driver’s seat the whole time too. The Coyotes were up 4-1 to start the second period and allowed four straight goals to be scored against them.
The penalty kill was atrocious as well. The unit allowed one powerplay goal and another one immediately after the penalty was killed. It’s something that needs to be improved on if the Coyotes want to get anywhere close to being a decent team.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Coyotes change up the blue line. The pairing of Durzi and defenseman J.J. Moser was good today as the two both scored, the Durzi goal being a pretty mid-air goal. The rest of the defense just did not look good. Defenseman Josh Brown looked lost sometimes out on the ice, and most of the players relied too heavily on Vejmelka. It’s a habit that needs to be changed quickly.
Logan Cooley Is Mad
There’s no questioning that rookie forward Logan Cooley is frustrated at what’s been happening. During the second period, he was checked by a Kings player and skated to the bench, but not before slamming his stick near the entrance. He had some great chances tonight, including an incredible move where he spun right in front of a Kings player on the boards, making his opponent fall to the ice while he continued full speed to the net with the puck.
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However, it felt like Cooley was benched in the third period, which is interesting because, arguably besides Vejmelka, the rookie had the best game out of anyone on the team. His total ice time was the fifth lowest on the team. Especially considering he’s one of the best rookies this season and centers the second line, it’s a stat to keep an eye on going forward as he seeks his first NHL goal.
A Bounceback Is Required
Two straight losses to the Kings have the Coyotes in a depressing situation. They are now 3-4-0 in the season and have been massively outplayed for the past two contests. Head coach Andre Tourigny saw two different teams in the two games against the Kings.
“It’s uncharacteristic. I think the last game in LA, you look at the pace of the game, the scoring chances we had. the possession,” Tourigny said. “We had nearly two minutes of offensive zone possession more than our opponents, so we did a lot of good things. We had no shame about that game tonight. It’s another story.”
The Kings, by far, had way more possession time. It seemed like they controlled the puck the whole time during the second and the third period. Even when the Coyotes chased goaltender Pheonix Copley out of the net with three early goals, the Kings never looked defeated and used that to their advantage. They got more shots on the opposing goaltender and were able to shut down the top line and the whole Coyotes’ offense. It’s what won them the game.
Despite a crushing loss, it doesn’t show what this team actually is. Tourigny knows how the team plays against the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 30 will be a telling sign of what his team can accomplish.
“It’s not one game that defines who you are as a team,” Tourigny said. It’s how you bounce back from those games that will define who we are more than the way we played tonight.”
It was a very disappointing night for the Coyotes and their fanbase. The Coyotes will now continue their home stretch against the Chicago Blackhawks when Connor Bedard visits Mullett Arena for the first time on Oct. 30.