Found April 16, 2013 on Fox Sports Arizona:
GLENDALE, Ariz. Mathematically speaking, the Coyotes are still in the hunt for the playoffs. By any other measure, the underdogs who won the Valleys heart last season were done as soon as they left the ice following a 4-0 loss to San Jose on Monday at Jobing.com Arena. There were ill omens before the Coyotes were even introduced. Goalie Mike Smith, who had been so spectacular since returning from the injured list, was scratched with a lower-body injury apparently sustained in Sundays practice. He just came in this morning and said he couldnt play," coach Dave Tippett said. We didn't think it would be an issue, but it ended up being an issue." Things only got worse from there. Former Coyote Raffi Torres set the tone early, flattening defenseman Keith Yandle with an open-ice hit about 10 seconds into the game, then elbowing Yandle in the head in front of the Coyotes net, leading to coincidental minors after Yandle retaliated with a slash. Just like that, the Sharks were the aggressors, and the Coyotes were reacting instead of instigating plays. Phoenix did manage some early pressure, but Mikkel Boedker hit a post, and no one else could finish a chance. The Coyotes won few puck battles thereafter, San Jose scored three second-period goals, and the follow-up act to the franchises best-ever season came to an unexpectedly easy end. They picked up their game, and we just didnt match the intensity that they played with in the second, captain Shane Doan said in a decidedly somber tone that was perfectly understandable. There wasnt enough fight for a team whose season was on the line, and there didnt seem to be enough concern about that deficiency. That is surprising for a club that has built its identity on a never-say-die attitude. "We've had too many times where we've had too many players on our team just get through the game, and its frustrating, Tippett said. "We need some players to make a positive impact on the game; not just be in a sweater." Tippett vowed that there would be no quit in his team over the final six games of the season, but the blunt truth is that there is no realistic chance of extending this season as the club heads out on a three-game gauntlet through St. Louis, Chicago and Detroit, likely needing a 6-0 finish to make the playoffs. There will be plenty of time over the final two weeks to write the epitaph on this season, but there are multiple factors to which even the most casual fan can readily point. Smith wasnt the Smith we saw most of last season, and when he finally was, he came up lame when the Coyotes could least afford it. The Coyotes might have contributed to his lackluster performance by riding him too hard and too often when other Western Conference teams recognized the need for two goalies in a lockout-shortened slate. General manager Don Maloneys normally impressive offseason touch landed a couple lumps of coal, as Matthew Lombardi could never stay healthy long enough to establish his presence, and Steve Sullivan could never score enough to warrant his. Just as important, the Coyotes missed Ray Whitneys deft scoring touch and his blunt locker-room approach on a club that, outside of Doan, seems to be lacking leadership. It was heartening to believe that the Coyotes could still make a playoff push after sending Lombardi, Sullivan and Torres packing at the trade deadline. But that initial infusion of youthful energy that the clubs AHL players provided eventually subsided, and Phoenix was left with the reality of a lineup rife with minor-league talent. I think theres always a way to win, Tippett said. What frustrates me is when you have situations where you dont think that were playing as well as we can. Weve got too many players that are just taking up a spot right now. In two weeks, the Coyotes can begin addressing those issues while eight other Western Conference teams chase something far more desirable. Follow Craig Morgan on Twitter
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
RELATED ARTICLES

Keith Yandle writes “Pray for Boston” on skates

Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle was born in Boston, Massachusettes, and to honor the victims of the horrific incident at the Finish Line of the Boston Marathon, he wrote “Pray For Boston” on the Tuuk of his skate.  I’m sure plenty of athletes will be doing something similar and we should all pray for Boston.  It’s times like these that remind us there are things...

Coyotes need points, know they can get them

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. There are a host of things the Phoenix Coyotes could do over the next two weeks as they chase a far-flung playoff dream. They could root for the right teams to win out-of-town games. They could say silent prayers. They could deliver impassioned speeches before every game. The problem: None of those methods will work. The only ironclad tactic the Coyotes have at...

Coyotes sign Tobias Rieder to entry-level contract

The Phoenix Coyotes have signed forward Tobias Rieder to a three-year, entry-level contract. Coyotes general manager Don Maloney announced the signing Monday, but didn't release any financial details. Rieder was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers in a March 29 trade for fellow junior forward Kale Kessy. The 20-year-old Rieder was a fourth-round draft pick of Edmonton in 2011...

Coyotes Defenseman Keith Yandle Honors Hometown, Writes ‘Pray for Boston’ on Skates (Photo)

Though he plays hockey in on the other side of the country, the Boston Marathon explosions hit home for Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle. Yandle, a native of Milton, Mass., and graduate of Cushing Academy, paid tribute to the victims of Monday’s tragedy by writing the words “Pray for Boston” on his skate for Phoenix’s game against the Sharks on Monday night. Phillies outfielder...

Coyotes’ Keith Yandle writes ‘pray for Boston’ across his skate (Picture)

Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle is known for having a pretty good sense of humor. The 26-year-old was supposedly at the center of the whole championship belt thing the Coyotes have going on with their player of the game this year. Like most others, Yandle was not in a very jolly mood on Monday following the Boston Marathon bombings. As you can see from the photo above that...

Hoo boy: Adam Burish, Oliver Ekman-Larsson become entangled on the ice (vid)

During Monday night’s tilt between the Phoenix Coyotes and San Jose Sharks, Adam Burish and Oliver Ekman-Larsson somehow became entangled during a play and the result of said entanglement ended with the two coming together in an incredibly hilarious pose of abject awkwardness. After Burish attempts to put a shot on net — a shot that Ekman-Larsson blocks — the Sharks center...

Adam Burish and Oliver Ekman-Larsson invent a new Yoga pose mid-game

After San Jose Sharks forward Adam Burish blocked a shot by Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Ekman-Larsson went over to vent some frustration.  What Ekman-Larsson didn’t expect is that when he cross-checked Burish that Burish would grab his leg and hold onto him.  I just can’t believe that the referee just stared at them and let them continue that for a few...

Sharks-Coyotes Preview

The Phoenix Coyotes suffered a costly loss their last time out to a team that had nothing to play for. They'll try to get back on track in their next game against a San Jose Sharks team that has plenty at stake. The Coyotes host the Sharks in a battle of Western Conference playoff hopefuls Monday night, with Phoenix looking for its third straight home shutout in the series....

Boston tragedy hits home for Coyotes' Yandle

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Keith Yandle was just getting ready to leave a group chat with some friends to take a pregame nap Monday when a series of frantic messages between his buddies alerted him that something wasnt right on Patriots Day in Boston. He tried calling his brother, Brian, who was at the Boston Marathon with his son, Brian ("Little B"), but he couldnt get through...
'BOSTON STRONG'

Bruins to wear decals to honor bombing victims

In honor of the Boston Marathon bombings, the Boston Bruins will be wearing “Boston Strong” decals on Wednesday night against the Buffalo Sabres.  NHL players have been honoring the victims in their own ways too.  Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle wrote “Pray for Boston” on his skates and Vancouver Canucks goalie Corey Schneider wrote it on his stick. [@NHLBruins]

Cam Gore: Sharks get back on track in the desert

The Sharks scored three in the second period and one in the third which was three more than they needed as Niemi was sharp again while posting a shutout in Phoenix to finish the road trip at 2-2. Raffi Torres set the tone for the game on the first shift with a text book open ice hit on former team mate Keith Yandle. Torres had another big hit to go with an assist and a plus -2 rating on the...
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.