Despite a solid performance from Jason LaBarbera in filling in for injured goalie Mike Smith, the Phoenix Coyotes dropped their sixth straight contest and continued their shocking plummet down the standings on Monday night. The 3-2 home loss against the Detroit Red Wings leaves Phoenix with 30 points to trail both the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks by four points for the Western Conference’s eighth playoff seed.
“We played well, but it’s just one of those things where we’re finding a way to lose games,” LaBarbera said, via NHL.com. “We’re not getting the bounces around their net and they’re getting the bounces around ours.”
Phoenix (13-15-4) lost Smith to an upper-body injury in Friday’s loss to the Vancouver Canucks and called on LaBarbera Monday, who was far from disappointing by saving 27 of 28 even-strength shots. The 33-year-old journeyman backup has posted a 1-5 record in six starts this year, but actually boasts a better save percentage (.923) and Smith (.901) this season. However, the Coyotes do hope Smith can return soon.
In the meantime, they must right ship on a season that suddenly began sinking on a March 14 shutout at the hands of the St. Louis Blues. Since then, Phoenix has lost to the Canucks, Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets and dropped two points to the Los Angeles Kings. Each team, with the exception of maybe the Blue Jackets, are very difficult matchups when evaluated individually. However, as a whole, this tough six-game stretch has really put a number on the Coyotes.
That number is now down to 12th place in the Western Conference.