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The Desert Dog Blog: Coyotes Confident Despite Slump

Wednesday, 03.07.2012 / 4:00 PM / The Desert Dog Blog - by Dave Vest
By Dave Vest
GLENDALE – Despite a four-game losing streak that has knocked them from third place in the Western Conference standings to seventh, the Coyotes remain a confident group with 15 games to go in the regular season.

Mike Smith
“There’s no need to panic,” goalie Mike Smith told reporters after an optional practice at Jobing.com Arena on Wednesday. “There’s still some hockey games left. We just can’t afford to let any more games slip away. It starts with me – it starts with the goaltending – and the rest of the guys will follow.”

The Coyotes next play Thursday when they host the Minnesota Wild in the first of three home games in five nights.

“This is no time for feeling sorry for ourselves," Smith said. "We have to find a way to get over this little slump and start winning some hockey games.”

Smith has posted an 0-3 record since being named the NHL’s No. 1 Star of February. Head Coach Dave Tippett removed him from Tuesday night’s 3-2 loss at Columbus less than four minutes into the game after he gave up two goals on seven shots.

Smith worked hard at Wednesday's hour-long practice and is eager to get back in net.

“It’s obvious that I’m in a little bit of a funk right now but I’m going to do everything I can to get back as quick as I can,” he said.

The Coyotes have been outscored 8-1 in the first period during their losing streak. Tippett said that trend must end immediately.

Photo by Getty Images.
“I don’t care who you are in this League, if your chasing games you’re not going to be very successful,” Tippett said. “You can get away with it now and then but not very often.”

The Coyotes have 15 games left on their schedule against 11 opponents and are 18-14-3 vs. those teams this season.

Tippett is looking for every player on the roster to give a little more effort in the final month of the regular season.

“Our players know what’s at stake right now,” Tippett said. “We had a good stretch and now we’ve got to look to find a way to find our game again. Right through our lineup we have to have a little more consistency, and the ability to push the game along and stay away from the errors.”

Forward Mikkel Boedker said the key to ending the slump is tapping the confidence earned when the team posted an 11-0-1 record in February.

“We’ve got to keep our heads high,” Boedker said. “We’ve just got to keep in mind that we know how to win and we can win.”

EDITOR'S NOTE: Contact Dave Vest at thedesertdogblog@phoenixcoyotes.com and follow him on Twitter @davest4yotes.
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