In what is becoming one of our new features, we're reaching out to the SBN blogs of our opponents on Game Day to get a sense of the match-up from the other side. Today, I posed three questions to the crew over at Five For Howling. Without further ado...
1. Are Coyotes fans worried about the slow start? Is there one thing that appears to be "wrong," or is it larger than that?
Worried? A bit. Freaking out? No. The Coyotes started off last season getting shelled in San Jose. I think the only concern is with a shorter season this time around is that they don't dig as big a hole to get out of as they did last season.
2. With 10 goals allowed in the first two games, are there concerns about Mike Smith's follow up to such a great season?
I'm not overly concerned on the Smith front. He looks a bit rusty, but my guess is a combination of advice from goalie whisperer Sean Burke and getting more game action will take care of any rust. The biggest help though, would be for his teammates, in particular Keith Yandle, to not hand the opposition the puck on a silver platter.
3. The Jackets' Power Play has had some success thus far, and the Coyotes' Penalty Kill appears (on paper) to have struggled through the first two games. Is it a case of "rust" or there a systemic issue that the Jackets might exploit?
Rust and conditioning appear to be the issue and not just with the penalty kill. The team has 8 of their top 10 penalty killers back on a unit which finished 8th in the NHL last regular season and 4th in the playoffs. Current Blue Jacket Adrian Aucoin was the only major loss personnel wise and Zbynek Michalek is a more than adequate replacement. In their first two contest the Coyotes defensive play overall was poor. They don't have the skill to have guys not up to snuff conditioning wise. Tired players equal mental mistakes.
Our thanks to the gang at FFH, and be sure to head over to check out their Game Day coverage!