GLENDALE, Ariz. Antoine Vermette is trying to let his stick breathe.
It was OK that he wasn't producing points when the Coyotes won their first three games with him in the lineup. He was still playing sound defense, still winning face-offs, still getting chances like the two posts he hit against Calgary and the goal he had disallowed against Edmonton. He was still contributing in many areas.
But with Phoenix dropping its second straight home game on Saturday a 5-2 shocker at the hands of his woeful former team -- the newest Coyote's grip is getting tighter and tighter, choking the life out of that 5-foot Reebok shaft.
"When you're not winning you want to find a way to help your team," said Vermette, who has zero points in five games with Phoenix. "You don't want to over-think about it, but certainly in a game like tonight it would have been nice to finish a chance off."
It's past that point, actually. The Coyotes need production from Vermette now. That's the simple truth.
He's a gifted, two-way player who can touch the game in a lot of ways. He's also blended seamlessly into an already good locker room. But he wasn't brought here for those reasons alone. He wasn't the Coyotes' lone trade deadline move simply because general manager Don Maloney liked his faceoff acumen and his affable demeanor.
Phoenix's greatest need at the deadline was offense. Vermette was the best option available who wouldn't cost anybody off the current roster. It's time to start producing. It's time to show better than he showed on Saturday.
"I didn't think he was as good tonight," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said after one of the worst losses the club has suffered this season. "He's certainly pressing. (He's) a new guy. He wants to come in and fit in and wants to contribute. It was probably tough for him today with his old team. But there are some areas of his game where we're going to see better than what he's showing right now."
Vermette has had pointless streaks before. He opened the season with six straight goose eggs in Columbus, and had an eight-game streak from Dec. 10-27. But this is different. By the time he reached December with Columbus, the Jackets were already well out of the playoff picture.
The Coyotes are in the thick of the playoffs picture, scratching and clawing for every point. They added Vermette to energize the second line to finally give Shane Doan a center while maintaining Tippett's defensive philosophies.
Vermette understands this all too well.
"I'm trying not to think about it yet," he said. "But it's a little bit more challenging when you're not winning."
Every player has these sorts of streaks. Coyotes analyst Tyson Nash joked Saturday that he made a career of pointless streaks. Doan tried to ease Vermette's burden by insisting that he was just as much at fault for any lack of production.
"Sometimes chemistry takes a while with a new linemate, sometimes it comes quick," Doan said. "It's natural that he wants to help us but he's such a talented player that it's just a matter of time."
The suddenly struggling Coyotes can't afford to wait much longer.