COYOTES FOCUS ON POWER PLAY
By: Chad Lynch
Through their first fourteen games of the 2005-06 season, the Coyotes have seen their power play unit both flourish and struggle. As of Wednesday, Phoenix was ranked 15th overall with a 18.2 % success rate, a number they would like to see increase over the next week.
"The power play is a big part of the league this season," said Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky. "So far, we have been using mostly the same guys on the power plays, especially the ones late in the game. But we are going to shake things up a little bit and whichever line is playing the best that night, is going to see a lot more time on the power play."
On the other hand, the Coyotes penalty-killing unit has fallen to 23rd overall with a 77.9 % success rate. Gretzky knows that this is an area that the Coyotes will need to improve on to climb back to the top of the Pacific Division.
"We've had situations lately where our penalty killing unit hasn't responded and killed a key penalty in a game," said Gretzky. "A perfect example of this was last Saturday against Dallas when we let up at the end of a five-on-three penalty kill and they were able to score a big goal and get back in the game."
TUESDAY'S TOUGH PRACTICE
On Tuesday, the Phoenix Coyotes underwent their toughest practice of the season to date as the players underwent a demanding skate for nearly two hours. On Wednesday, Gretzky acknowledged that periodic practices, like the Coyotes skate yesterday, are inevitable part of professional sports.
"Nobody likes to have practices like that, not the players and not the coaches," said Gretzky. "But it is a part of professional sports. It's been that way forever, it happened to me as a player and it will happen in the future."
The bottom line was the coaching staff wanted to stress that a good effort is not good enough for this franchise.
"We are working to establish a winning attitude here and we can't let ourselves be satisfied with close games and good efforts. We need to raise our level of commitment as a group and that will translate into wins.
LUNDMARK ON CONDITIONING ASSIGNMENT
On Wednesday, Coyotes center Jamie Lundmark agreed to a voluntary conditioning assignment with Phoenix's AHL affiliate in San Antonio.
Lundmark is likely to play with the Rampage in Wednesday's contest against the Manitoba Moose. Lundmark could also play in Saturday's game against Manitoba before returning to the Coyotes.
"It was just a situation where we just needed to get him some game time," said Gretzky. "The thing is, there are two types of condition in this league. There is being "in-shape" and being in "hockey-shape." Jamie's in-shape, but he hadn't played a lot in New York this season and this was just a chance for him to go and get into a few games and get some confidence before coming back here in a couple of days.
JOSEPH SCHEDULED TO START IN GOAL
Coyotes goaltender Curtis Joseph is scheduled to start in goal when Phoenix hosts the Los Angeles Kings at Glendale Arena on Thursday.