So far, 2013 has not gone the way the Phoenix Coyotes thought it would. After making a deep run into the playoffs last season, the team seemed to be on the rise, and there were many who thought the 2012-13 season could be their time to shine. Somewhere between their last playoff game and now, something went wrong, and it seems to be getting worse instead of better.
Sure, their goalie was injured to start the season, but having him back did them no good on Thursday night against the Chicago Blackhawks. At this point it is Chicago that is the benchmark all other teams need to measure themselves with, and Phoenix came up very short. It was the Blackhawks seventh victory on the road this season, and if the Coyotes were going to make a statement, that was the game to do it in.
Instead, they were steamrolled by the very team they had knocked out of the playoffs just this last season, and they were made to look like amateurs in the process. The beat down was punctuated by a bit of revenge for Chicago when they let Raffi Torrres know they had not forgotten his season ending hit on Marian Hossa in Game 3 of the playoffs last year. The fight between Torres and Jamal Mayers served as notice that this was a different season, and that these were two very different teams.
Unfortunately for Phoenix, the path does not get much easier, as they travel to take on the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks failed to fare much better against the Blackhawks earlier in the week as well, and have lost their last two matches, but that is all the more reason the Coyotes have to be concerned about heading into the Shark Tank on Saturday.
San Jose sits at 15 and despite the back-to-back losses, they are still among the top teams in the Western Conference. Phoenix will need to bounce back from the thumping they took from Chicago and focus on finding a way to compete against a very good San Jose team. If they do not, then the Coyotes may find themselves on the outside looking in at the end of the regular season.