Last night in Edmonton, the Arizona Coyotes did what they normally do.
But unlike previous losses this season, this one felt different. And afterwards, their veteran goalie really let them have it.
“You could feel it on the ice,” Mike Smith said after the 3-1 defeat, per Reuters. “We were just playing, and it was blah. It was blah. And you can’t expect to play like that and compete against a really good hockey team. That’s what we did tonight. We have to learn from it. Sooner or later, this organization’s got to move forward and not continue to have games like this.”
At 13-24-6, the Coyotes are already out of the playoff race. It’s estimated they’d have to go in the neighborhood of 26-7-6 to qualify for the postseason, and that just isn’t going to happen.
Smith wasn’t alone in lambasting his team last night. The head coach, Dave Tippett, said it was “as poor as we’ve played” in the last month.
Suffice to say, it has been a disappointing season for the Coyotes. Though outside expectations were not particularly high for this group, they were much higher internally.
“Our team is looking to try and make the playoffs this year,” forward Max Domi said back in October. “We’re looking forward to the challenge and it’s going to be a lot of fun. The new faces are going to help us out a lot and some guys coming back are going to do the same things they did last year and more.”
Alas, the “new faces” have not been able to make the Coyotes competitive. Alex Goligoski was the big offseason addition. But the 31-year-old defenseman got off to a frustrating start with his new team, and though things have improved slightly since, the jury’s still out on the decision to give him a five-year contract worth $27.375 million.
In fact, Tippett singled out Goligoski and Michael Stone for this poorly timed line change that led to the Oilers’ first goal:
With pending unrestricted free agents in Shane Doan, Martin Hanzal, Radim Vrbata, Ryan White, and Stone, the Coyotes should be an interesting team to watch as the trade deadline approaches.
That being said, this is not an organization that needs more prospects, more draft picks. This is an organization that needs to start turning the corner.
“It’s a privilege to play in this league and put the Coyotes sweater on,” said an exasperated Smith. “I don’t know, I can’t explain it. I can talk for myself, and know that every game I go into I want to give myself the best chance to play at my best. And I can’t speak for anyone else, but we’ve got too many guys who aren’t doing enough to push this thing along.”
Related: Keller, Strome to meet in gold-medal game at World Juniors