After a 4-0 loss to Detroit on Monday all but eliminated the Coyotes from postseason play, players and coaches were asked to reflect on the year.
Their answers wasn’t surprising.
“Season of frustration,” head coach Dave Tippett told Fox Sports Arizona.
Goalie Mike Smith said much of the same.
“It is disappointing,” he explained. “After getting to the Conference Finals last year and having success, and sitting where we are right now is a hard pill to swallow.”
The Coyotes had high expectations coming into this year after a banner 2011-12 campaign. They captured the Pacific Division title and made it to the Western Conference finals for the first time in franchise history.
Phoenix also retained a large core of the ’11-12 team, including captain Shane Doan, who opted to stick with the club after a number of suitors expressed interest this past summer.
This year, though, few things went right in the desert.
Last year’s leading goalscorer, Radim Vrbata, missed 14 games to injury and scored just nine times. Smith, arguably the team’s MVP a year ago, was only able to play 32 games.
The team’s penalty kill, ranked eighth in the league last year, dropped to 19th (80.5 percent). And the offense dried up almost entirely, as Phoenix tied Nashville by being shut out a league-high nine times this season.
There was also one crucial stretch of play that doomed the ‘Yotes — a seven-game winless streak in March where they only secured two points and fell from sixth to 12th in the Western Conference.
“That losing streak — that’s the season,” Vrbata explained. “That’s where we got behind, and we were chasing since then.
“It’s tough to chase in this league.”