Long a picture of consistency, the Phoenix Coyotes took an unexpected step backward last season. A year after advancing to the Western Conference Final, the Coyotes missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2009 after posting a 21-18-9 record.
They started 2-4-2, and a seven-game losing streak in March effectively undid their season. Throw in nagging injuries to goaltender Mike Smith and a serious second-half scoring drought from young forward Mikkel Boedker, and the Coyotes were unable to find their stride.
The summer was highlighted by the addition offensive-minded forwards, Mike Ribeiro through free agency and Max Domi at the 2013 NHL Draft. But the 2013-14 Coyotes likely will display the solid two-way play that has been a team signature since coach Dave Tippett took over in 2009.
If the Coyotes hope to return to the postseason, they'll need to answer these six questions: