GLENDALE, Ariz. Steve Sullivan has murdered a dozen innocent sticks over the past six weeks choked the life out of every feeble blade. But as his goal-less drought reached 14 games in reality -- and eternity in his mind -- all the experiences of a 38-year-old NHL veteran were of no use.
"You don't think you have as much time as you do, you're trying to rush pucks," Sullivan said. "You're just not as confident as you usually are."
Compounding Sullivan's self-imposed pressure were the words of coach Dave Tippett, who made plain his displeasure with the play and production of his top two lines over the past few weeks. The Coyotes had been relying on their fourth line far too much for scoring, and that's not a recipe for long-term success.
But with the Pacific-Division leading Anaheim Ducks in town on Saturday for the first of a three-game, lockout-induced miniseries, Sullivan's stick exhaled at the most opportune of times.