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Phoenix Playoff Run Unsustainable

No team has more playoff wins so far in their playoff run than the Phoenix Coyotes.  Their six wins so far ties them with the Los Angeles Kings.  That should be enough to show that Phoenix has been one of the best teams in the playoffs to date, but they haven’t.  No team has been outshot by a larger margin in the playoff so far.  Phoenix has been outshot by almost twelve shots per game.  While they average 27.8 shots, they have allowed 39.5 shots per game.  In the regular season no team was outshot by more than five shots per game. 

Phoenix could not be surviving without outstanding play from goaltender Mike Smith.  He is posting a .943 saves percentage and a 2.03 GAA.  Those numbers exceed his regular season values, which were also very good.  These numbers are unsustainably high.

Phoenix has won some close games.  No team has more overtime wins than Phoenix’s four so far in this playoff run.  Overtime games are games which either team could have won and Phoenix is somewhat likely that they have.

Phoenix may be up two games to none against Nashville but it isn’t clear that they can hang on to win.  They have not played well enough to be on their current playoff run.  Phoenix is outplayed in most of their games but still winning and that is a trend which cannot be sustained for long.  It won’t be too long before the Coyotes run falls apart.

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Do you ever watched a Coyote hockey game before the playoffs?  The national pundits are now starting to admit their ignorance of how this team plays, maybe you should too.  Conference Champs = better than San Jose, Los Angeles, Dallas all year.  It’s just Coyote Hockey….watch and be amazed….

Posted by John Weis from Phoenix, AZ on 05/01/12 at 02:22 PM ET

Faux Rumors's avatar

1) It might also be said that Nashville has out played Phoenix yet is down by two games. Perhaps their high level of play might not be “sustainable” either? 
2) Regardless, all Phoenix has to do to win is go .500 the next 4 games, and in a short series of games goaltendig is usually the key factor. Sustainable? Perhaps not, but the Preds now have a steep hill to climb. Playing the next 2 in Music City won’t hurt though.

Posted by Faux Rumors from Globally- Here, there, Everywhere on 05/01/12 at 02:31 PM ET

Alan's avatar

If their playoff run is unsustainable, then someone will have to beat them, right?

Amazingly, you have a 50 percent chance of being correct.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 05/01/12 at 02:54 PM ET

awould's avatar

Of the 8 teams remaining in the playoffs, SIX have been outshot on average. And the team with the biggest positives in shots is Chicago. Anyone who watched that series saw Chicago taking potshots from the outside and the blue line. Total shots doesn’t really mean they’re all good ones. And a bad shot from the blue line or outside with nobody around to take a rebound (if Smith ever gives on up) is worthless. Actually, worse than worthless, it’s a turnover and stalls momentum…which is great for a mucking team like PHX.

Basically the crux of this piece is that PHX is relying on grinding play and hot goaltending in the playoffs. Sounds like every team that has ever won the Cup. Maybe they’re not as pretty as you’d like, but they’re getting it done. Last game was their best game too.

Posted by awould on 05/01/12 at 02:57 PM ET

awould's avatar

Also, your article fails to address how PHX is any different than NSH, who was outshot by DET by nearly 9 shots a game. Guess they suck too, huh?

Posted by awould on 05/01/12 at 02:58 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

Let’s put it in mathematical terms. It isn’t unsustainable because the playoffs are only, at most, 28 games. Sample size, right? How long does it take for a win expectancy based on shots/chances/Corsi/possession to stabilize and fall in line with the actual wins and losses? That is a real question, not rhetorical. I don’t know, but I have to think 28 games is probably the minimum where such a number would start to stabilize. And even then, what are you basing the win expectancy on? There’s still a lot of earth to uncover when it comes to tracking more meaningful team statistics in hockey. I think we all agree shots isn’t good enough, chances has been tracked too subjectively, and Corsi gives too much weight to (as put above) any old pot shot at the net.

There are a lot of reasons that Phoenix won’t continue on to a Cup, but saying the run is simply unsustainable doesn’t really explain those reasons.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 05/01/12 at 03:24 PM ET

socalwingnut's avatar

TPSH makes a good observation, though.

I look at this years playoffs as an anomaly as far as the NHL powers go. Underdog teams have found a way to beat favorites this year and I think the wake up call has been sent. You need to outwork your opponent, not just out-skill or out-system them. When the Ducks won in ‘07 everybody decided they needed to get bigger and more “North American” (read: Canadian). However, the Red Wings won in ‘08 with a combination of skill, grit and hard work and that, to me, is the best way to build a team to win in the NHL.

I remember Dave Tippett remarking after a game against Dallas that year that not only were the Red Wings one of the most skilled teams, they were also the hardest working team. You can’t get a higher compliment from your opponent than that.

Posted by socalwingnut on 05/01/12 at 03:38 PM ET

aaron in phoenix's avatar

I don’t believe that you watch the Coyotes close enough to make any sort of valid judgement. You’re basing your arguement on total shots allowed? Just looking at the box scores to make your points?

They shut out Chicago, and closed the series, scoring four goals on 18 shots. It’s the quality of shots, not the quantity.

Phoenix will give any team all the shots they want from the perimiter. Mike Smith will eat those up all day. What they won’t do, is allow teams to get those second chance opprotunities up close. The team collapses around the goalie and tries to keep second chances from happening.

This has been happening all season long. It’s not just the playoffs. It’s their game plan. Do they want to see Smitty having to make 40 saves a night? No, but just because he frequently does, doesn’t mean they are all quality scoring opprotunities.

And game 2 against the Preds was, by far, the Yotes best game of the playoffs. If they play anyone like that, they will sustain their playoff run.

Posted by aaron in phoenix from Section 102 on 05/01/12 at 03:42 PM ET

Avatar

It’s the quality of shots, not the quantity.

Exactly.  Being outshot is not the same as being outplayed.

Posted by Garth on 05/01/12 at 03:58 PM ET

awould's avatar

In addition, take into account the opponents. Like Detroit did to Nashville, Chicago takes a ton of shots that don’t amount to much. It skews the numbers.

So what happens when PHX finishes this series against NSH and then faces LA? Do you think they’ll be blasting 40 shots a game? My point is, if PHX does indeed win the Cup, I think they’re shots for/against margin will have shrunk considerably. So while it might be true that it is unsustainable to keep winning with such a huge disparity in shots, it is likely to be true that the rate at which they’re being outshot won’t sustain itself either.

In regular season, they went 3-1 against Chicago and were outshot by an average of 9.25 shots per game. Sounds about how they did in the playoffs.

Posted by awould on 05/01/12 at 04:04 PM ET

redxblack's avatar

if/when PHX wins the cup, I’ll be sure to bookmark this so I’ll remember how unsustainable and bad they are. The playoffs are a different animal. Health matters more than anything else. If PHX stays healthy and the other teams do not, anything can happen.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 05/01/12 at 04:26 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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