Through the first ten games of 2023, the Coyotes have a 1-9-0. The one win came in a shootout against Detroit a few days ago. The team’s last regulation win was nearly a month ago against Toronto on December 29th. So yes, unfortunately, people can make the joke that the Coyotes haven’t won a game in regulation since last year.
Given the Coyote’s recent poor record, should fans be concerned? Despite the #TankforBedard mission that the Coyotes are taking part in, there are reasons for people to be concerned.
During the recent ten-game stretch, the Coyotes have averaged 1.7 goals for and 3.7 goals allowed; this includes two shutout losses. Although one of the shutout losses was against Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals, the other loss came against the underwhelming Chicago Blackhawks. Currently, the league’s goals-against average is at approximately 2.95. The Yotes’ have only allowed less than three goals in three of the ten games.
The big dogs have been underperforming during this stretch. All-Star Clayton Keller only has 2 goals, 4 points, and a +/- rating of -8. Nick Schmaltz has no goals, 5 assists, and a +/- rating of -7. Karel Vejmelka has lost eight straight games in which he had six games with a sub .900 save percentage. Defenseman Jusso Valimaki has been dreadful; his terrible play is reflected in his +/- rating of -10. Arizona’s powerplay has been MIA, as the team only scored two powerplay goals in 19 opportunities for a 10.5% powerplay percentage.
For a team to be successful, players have to find ways to be successful during the grind of the season, the middle of the season when players are tired, hurt, or lacking momentum and motivation. It is clear that the Yotes are under the influence of the midseason grind, given the inferior offense and defense. More importantly, it is vital for the team to work, play a full 60 minutes of hockey each game, and secure some wins so that the core young players understand that losing is not acceptable and should not be tolerated. Otherwise, a losing culture may be instilled in the locker room, and not even Connor Bedard can fix that.