Petshark: Talking Stick
by petshark on 03/10/12 at 03:55 PM ET
The coyotes are back. Haven’t heard them in a while but last night there it was, that familiar, creepy yipping sound not so very far away.
From February 16-28, the Phoenix Coyotes went 6-0. Since then, they are 0-5. During that six-game winning streak, three games went to shootouts and one to overtime. During this losing streak, only one game went beyond regulation, Thursday’s shootout with Minnesota. During the winning streak, they only won one game by more than one goal. During the losing streak they have lost two by two or more goals.
During the winning streak, the largest shots on goal discrepancy came against the Canucks on the 28th. The Coyotes were outshot 40-35. That isn’t a glaring gap. In the five games they have just lost, the Coyotes outshot their opponents by as few as 6 shots and as many as 17. In Calgary the shots were even. Doesn’t look like winning on the shot clock has been helping the Coyotes any more than it helps the Sharks.
What’s going on with the Coyotes? Did that mojo Mike Smith borrowed from his predecessor finally pack up and move to Philly? Since March 1, the day the Coyotes’ losing streak started, the Flyers haven’t lost. That’s a little spooky. Makes me wonder if Smith was using Bryzgalov’s old pads.
If you don’t believe in jumping mojo, could it be a case of “math happens”? Are they, as has been said of other surprise contenders, simply returning to form? What form? The form that keeps getting them into the playoffs despite never knowing who will own them next year or where they will be or if anyone will come watch them play? That form? Doesn’t seem to hurt them much, that form.
The Coyotes fared well against Pacific Division rivals during the winning streak, accounting for three of their six wins. Well that will help kick a team up the standings. They also played ten of their last eleven games against Western Conference teams. The Sharks have played half of their games since February 16 against Eastern Conference teams, and the only Pacific Division rival they met was Dallas.
I don’t know what any of that means except that the Sharks have been outside their element in more ways than one lately, while the Coyotes have stayed close to home. That doesn’t explain why the Sharks only won two games since February 16. Fear the Fin put losing to Columbus in their list of thoroughly confounding things today. I would add losing to Carolina, Minnesota, Edmonton and even Tampa Bay. But the point is moot. The Sharks have lost all over the place, I don’t want to dwell on that.
The Coyotes are one point ahead of the Sharks in the standings. The Sharks have two games in hand on them, but I’m not going to count those eggs yet. They could hatch into legless runts, or rot without hatching at all. There’s just the one point between the Sharks and the Coyotes. A win will put either team within striking distance of Dallas and first place in the Pacific. A loss will hurt a lot, especially if Dallas wins again tonight.
It sure is a good thing for the Sharks that the Pacific Division isn’t what it was last season. The teams are all close again, but way down the Conference scale from where they were this time last year. The Sharks would have to go on one crazy run to catch anyone outside their conference right now. Chicago, six points ahead, is the closest.
Today there will be no help from the Midwest. There’s just the Ducks playing the Stars. I guess the Ducks could help, but with four teams already so close to each other in the Pacific I don’t know if it’s safe to wish them well. Also, they would have to win, against the Stars who are hell bent on disproving the theory that they are pretenders. Good luck, Anaheim.
All those numbers about past games don’t mean anything tonight. It’s a new day, a new game, anything can happen.
You hardly ever see coyotes in packs. You usually only see one at a time. When you hear them, it’s in numbers: excited, high-pitched chattering like I heard last night. It is such an unsettling sound. I wonder what the hell they are jabbering about so fearlessly. It makes me worry about Fred the cat again.
Cats are not known for displays of teamwork. Like coyotes, they do sometimes figure out how to work with others. A house cat may discover that it’s better to go out for walks with large dogs than by himself. But most of the time, cats take care of their own business and wait for no one to tell them it’s time to get going. Cats don’t get eaten by coyotes nearly as often as they might.
This is Fred. Fred has not been eaten by coyotes.
If each player does his job like he’s on his own to do it, the result can be responsibility and accountability.
Turkeys, on the other hand, are hopelessly attached to the flock, completely reliant on what the other turkeys are doing. This makes them lazy and lacking in personal accountability. A turkey in a flock expects the other turkeys to wake him up if the coyotes come. That can end badly:
This is a turkey who left it up to the next guy.
I don’t want to take the animal metaphors too far. I don’t want the Sharks to leave the Coyotes strewn across the ice in little chewed-up pieces. That would be excessive. I just want them to balance their individual effort with teamwork, so each player is there for his team, without waiting for anyone else to ring the bell. Don’t be a turkey, wake yourself up.
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About Petshark: Talking Stick
Native of Northern California. Hockey fan since 1998... sort of... there's a hiatus in there that I still can't explain.
I want to know about anything and everything related to the sport and the spectacle. I watch, I react, I write it down.
My interest in the Sharks was initially a matter of geographic convenience and regional loyalty because that seemed to be how it worked. I had no prior interest (at all-- AT ALL) in professional sports of any kind. When I met hockey, it might have set off a chain reaction of general sports fandom. It hasn't, I don't think it will. At all.
Since then, that interest developed into full blown (mostly sort of usually almost completely) exclusive loyalty to the Sharks.
I started blogging a couple years ago on wordpress. I still occasionally put things there that I don't think fit here because they are not about the Sharks. Wherever my words wander, here on Kuklas Korner, they will (usually) hang on to a teal thread.
I can be found in cyberspace on Twitter @petshark47, or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org