COYOTES LOOK TO RAISE THEIR LEVEL OF PLAY
By: Chad Lynch
After returning home from a four game road trip that saw Phoenix post a 2-2-0 record, the Coyotes were reluctant to be satisfied with a split and instead were focusing on what they needed to do to get back on a winning streak.
"When you look at our games this season, we have been close in all of them," said Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky. "We have been competitive and our players refuse to let themselves be taken out of a game."
However, the Coyotes have lost five one-goal games this season, and while they are keeping the games close, they know that to climb up the Pacific Division standings, the club will need to turn those close games into victories.
"The bottom line is we need to be a tougher team to play against," said captain Shane Doan. "Right now we are letting other teams dictate the style of play and we are keeping up with them. We need to start being more aggressive and make it hard for teams to stay with us for three periods."
The Coyotes also know that the opportunities to change the outcome of the games are there, they just need to step up and take advantage of it.
"We have really shot ourselves in the foot a few times this season by not converting on some of the five-on-three and five-on four power plays that we have been given," said Gretzky. "The good news is that is something that we can control and fix ourselves."
TOP LINE PRODUCTION
One area that Gretzky and the Coyotes coaching staff would like to see improvement on is the play of their top line players. After a series of injures over the first three weeks of the season, the Coyotes top players appear to be back to full strength and ready to elevate their own play.
"That is the group that we need to get more production out of to be successful," said Gretzky. "When you talk about guys like Doan, (Ladislav) Nagy, (Petr) Nedved and (Mike) Johnson, you expect more out of them and they expect it from themselves."
Doan echoed Gretzky's comments regarding his own play.
"For me personally, I need to raise my game to the next level," said Doan. "I haven't been as tough to play against or as much of a factor this season as I feel I could be and now is the time where I need to set up and lead by example."
LENEVEU TO START TUESDAY
Following Monday's practice, Gretzky announced that rookie goaltender David LeNeveu would get the start in goal on Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues.
"David has been real good this season and we wanted to get him another game on this home stand," said Gretzky.
Coyotes netminder Brian Boucher did participate in Monday's team practice at Glendale Arena. Boucher, who suffered a groin strain in the first preseason game of the season, is still expected to make a start with the club's AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage, possibly as early as this week before returning to the Coyotes line-up.
BERRY TRADED TO NASHVILLE
On Monday; Coyotes General Manager Michael Barnett announced that the Coyotes had traded defenseman Rick Berry to the Nashville Predators for future considerations. Upon completion of the deal, Berry was assigned to the Predators AHL affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals.
Berry, 26, has appeared in five games with the Coyotes AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage this season, registering a minus -7 plus/minus and four penalty minutes. In 197 career NHL games, Berry has posted 15 points (2g-13a) and 314 penalty minutes with Colorado, Pittsburgh and Washington.