Finger Pointing? Use Your Toes Too

Coyotes fans are all unhappy with the results of the home ice loss to the Flyers. It was Shane Doan’s first game back after missing ten games due to Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. We wanted 19 to get his second NHL hat trick, or at least be the catalyst to turn the tide of recent Coyotes sub-par performances.

Coyotes Head Coach Tippett

Coyotes Head Coach Tippett

It didn’t happen, so we’re all annoyed and pointing fingers at individuals. There’s plenty of blame to go around, if you’re pointing fingers you should remove your shoes and use all ten toes as well.

The team had a two goal lead TWICE, and managed to lose. That’s not an individual effort.

Most of the heat was directed at Yandle and Smitty. When you get the salary AND when your play tends toward the loose cannon side, that’s what happens.

Yandle turned over the puck in his own zone and it resulted in the game winning goal. Social media (mostly Twitter) erupted with Yandle blame and “That’s why he’s not on the Olympic team” comments.

Points in the last five Coyotes games: Yandle 6, Boedker 3, Hanzal 3, Ribiero 3, Korpikoski 2, Vrbata 2, Vermette 1. OEL missed 1 3/4 of those games, he has 1 point.

In this game, Yandle whipped a pass from close to the Coyotes goal to hit Boedker on the tape at the Flyers blue line for Boeds to score. The last time the Coyotes won, Yandle assisted Boeds for the game tying goal and also scored the game winner with 6.5 seconds left in overtime.

Smitty faced 27 shots Flyers shots.

Let’s play video coach on the game winning goal play that caused the ruckus.

The Pick

Yandle skated the puck around the back of the net with Flyers C (and captain) Giroux shadowing. Giroux currently has 9 more points than anyone on the Coyotes team.

Flyers RW Voracek, with as many points as the top two Coyotes and riding a nine game point streak, skated up quickly between Korpi and Marty to poke the puck off Yandle’s stick as #3 tried to drag it back inside away from Voracek.

In hindsight, instead of forcing the play, Yandle probably should have bounced it to the boards in Korpi’s direction before Voracek got close enough to poke the puck away.

Vrby was open toward the other side of the ice, the likely target for Yandle.

Marty is escorting Downie out of the offensive zone, Vrby and Korpi are both waiting at the blue line for Yandle’s decision.

Off the screen, Murphy is positioned to handle whatever Voracek and Giroux decide to do with the puck. Smitty is watching everything.

Voracek picks Yandle

Voracek picks Yandle

 The Setup

Once Voracek had the puck, he headed towards the goal as Giroux spun off Yandle headed for the other side.

Murphy (how good is THAT kid?) backs up a little with his eye on Voracek. He still has a little time to commit to Voracek passing to Giroux or shooting.

Smitty has his eye on the puck and appears relaxed.

Yandle is off balance and needs to recover to cover Giroux.

There’s no help coming from the three forwards without a time machine. Marty and Korpi might get close in time for a second or third rebound.

Flyers GWG Setup

Flyers GWG Setup

The Shot

Murphy guesses Voracek will pass, a likely thing to happen, and he gets his stick in the lane to cut it off. Yandle is back to cover Giroux, but isn’t yet in position to stop a pass if it happens.

Smitty is still watching and his stance is much more prepared than in the above image. He’s not down in a butterfly, probably thinking Giroux could still be the shooter and he’ll need to shift to his blocker side. He has his stick mostly in position to cover a five hole shot, but there’s still plenty of air between it and the ice.

Smitty is lightly screened by Murphy, and Voracek snaps the shot on the ice between Murphy’s skates. I wouldn’t think that would be called a screened shot in the NHL, although none of us would have a prayer of stopping it.

Voracek shoots the game winning goal

Voracek shoots the game winning goal

 The Goal

We couldn’t really grab a good shot of the goal going in, but you can see Smitty dropped down into the butterfly. A five hole gap remains and his stick is well off the ice. If the stick had been on the ice or the pads had been together, there’s no goal.

Flyers game winning goal

Flyers game winning goal

After The Game

In the post mortem interviews, Coach Tippett says in response to Sarah’s request to summarize:

“When you make mistakes (Yandle) and your goaltender (Smitty) doesn’t clean them up, you end up where we’re at.”

Craig Morgan asks:

“You’re halfway through the season and we’re talking about those same issues. Does that concern you that it’s the character of the team now?”

Coach:

“Yeah, yeah very concerning. Very concerning that we don’t recognize situations well enough and we don’t play well enough in a lot of situations.”

Later, Morgan again:

“What’s it take to shake this team, does it need some kind of shakeup?”

Coach:

“Well, we’ll see. We’re at the halfway mark. I’m sure Don and I will talk the next few days and evaluate where we are and where we’ll get to. We’re going to get there somehow, we’ve just got to figure that out.”

Ouch. Click here to watch the whole video, it’s worth it.

What Now?

While the snippets I pulled out make it sound like the head coach is also pointing fingers at Mike Smith and Keith Yandle,  Tippett makes it clear he feels the entire team is responsible for the inconsistent malaise. While Tippett later digs a little deeper into Smitty’s performance, it was in response to a direct question from Walshy about Mike Smith as the starting goalie.

Both Doaner and Tippett admitted OEL was greatly missed. However, not having OEL wasn’t THE problem with the power play. The Coyotes are 0-13 on the powerplay over the past four games, half of which OEL played.

I’d expect more press about the state of the Coyotes this week, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. GMDM is making the TV rounds today, I think Tippett may be on tap for an interview or two tomorrow.

The guys in charge of the Coyotes on the ice are among the best in the business. They see the same games we do, except they have a depth of knowledge and the resources to make changes that we don’t. They’ll likely figure this out.

When the Coyotes are clicking, it’s obvious they have the chops to play with anybody. It looks, to me, like there’s just one small piece missing somehow, a piece that, once found, would provide the consistency needed to run through the playoffs.

I don’t have a clue what that piece is, though.