By:_ Damon Markiewicz
There is an old saying when looking into a mirror that emphasizes_a person_can’t fool their reflection looking back at them._ Phoenix Coyotes players and coaches feel the same way heading into their most critical stage of the young season realizing there aren't any shortcuts when striving for success in the National Hockey League.
The Coyotes will look to end a three-game losing streak on Thanksgiving night when they host the Los Angeles Kings at AWA._ Game time will be 7:00 p.m._ Phoenix prepared for Los Angeles on Wednesday morning at the ALLTEL Ice Den in Scottsdale and there was a common theme echoed by both players and coaches.
“We are not satisfied with the way we have been playing,” said Coyotes center Daymond Langkow, who is third on the team in scoring with 5-10-15 totals in 21 games._ “The only way we are going to have success is if we have everyone chipping in and as a team we are ready to play every night._ We have to play tight defense and stick to the style of play that will give us the best chance of winning.”
Phoenix focused on regaining the approach they need to_have entering_each game to_achieve their desired results._ The Coyotes got back to basics in their preparation on Wednesday and the club is striving to keep the game simple and looking to_eliminate mistakes at both ends of the ice.
“Hockey is a funny game because when things are going well, teams are usually doing all of the little things correctly such as: blocking shots, staying out of the penalty box and avoiding turnovers,” said defenseman Cale Hulse, who continues to lead the team in plus/minus with a +12 rating._ “When things are not going well, clubs usually stress on getting back to the basics.__ I am not sure why teams get away from all of those aspects of the game that lead to success._ Those are usually the determining factors in a game and we made sure we covered all of those aspects in practice.”
Recognizing and correcting the bad habits that have developed into the Coyotes play was addressed at Wednesday’s workout and there is no time like the present to get back on track._ It will be the players on the ice that are accountable to get the ship pointed in the right direction._ To help give the Coyotes a jump-start, right wing Fredrik Sjostrom was recalled from the Springfield Falcons, the Coyotes top minor league affiliate in the American Hockey League._
“It is a dream come true to have the opportunity to play in the NHL,” said Sjostrom, who arrived in Phoenix Wednesday afternoon and played on a line with center Jeff Taffe while with the Falcons._ “Anytime you have the opportunity to play at this level, you have to make the most of your time._ I just want to do whatever is asked of myself to try and help this team win games.”
Sjostrom’s recall could be considered by most as a wakeup call for the players on the Coyotes roster and continues to stress the importance of earning your ice time._ If the Coyotes elect to dress six defensemen on Thursday night, a decision will have to be made on which two forwards will not be in the lineup.
When asked if Sjostrom’s recall was to give the team some spark energy and to have guys realize that there are players within the organization that deserve a chance to try and get the job done, the answer was simple.
“All of the above,” said Coyotes head coach
Bob Francis._ “Freddy (Sjostrom) is coming up to play.”
Following the Coyotes match up against the Kings on Thanksgiving night, they will embark on a five-game, eight-day road_trip that begins this Sunday in Boston against the Bruins._ Before Phoenix can even think about the upcoming time on the road, they face the Pacific Division leading Kings on Thursday.
“Right now, we have to take it one game at a time,” said Francis._ “We can’t start thinking about next week until we take care of business this week._ We play a tough opponent in Los Angeles and we have to be ready for them._ There comes a time in the season where things need to be corrected and that time is now.”
Phoenix started this month losing to the Kings 7-3 back on November 1 at Staples Center and it was a defeat that has not been forgotten.
“We obviously were not pleased with how the first game went in their barn, but we have a chance to_produce a better effort at home,” said Francis._ “The cage has been rattled a little bit in our locker room and it is time for the guys to step it up.”
PRACTICE NEWS AND NOTES
LINE COMBINATIONS – The Coyotes went through an intense workout at the ALLTEL Ice Den on Wednesday and the following were the line combinations:_ Daymond Langkow centered right wing Shane Doan and left wing Ladislav Nagy._ Jeff Taffe was in between right wing Branko Radivojevic and left wing Brian Savage._ Meanwhile, there were a few different trios involving forwards Mike Sillinger, Krystofer Kolanos, Daniel Cleary, Tyson Nash, Chris Gratton, Andrei Nazarov and Landon Wilson._ Fredrik Sjostrom arrived Wednesday afternoon and didn’t skate with the team.
INJURY UPDATE – Goaltender Zac Bierk continues to inch closer to his return, but a decision hasn’t been made who will start in goal for the Coyotes on Thursday._ Jan Hrdina (fractured toe) and Mike Johnson (shoulder surgery) remain on the injured reserve list.
NAGY NOMINATED – Phoenix left wing Ladislav Nagy has been nominated for the POWERade/NHL Outstanding Player Award._ The promotional award, introduced last season, is presented monthly to the player who best epitomizes power, perseverance, courage and commitment on and off the ice._ Fans will have the ability to vote on NHL.com throughout the month of December to select November’s winner.