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‘Yotes Notes: Better Starts Needed as Season Progresses

by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes

GLENDALE -- The Coyotes have fallen behind 1-0 in each of the past six games with mixed results. They rallied to win three of those games, but General Manager Don Maloney would just as soon see the trend disappear immediately.

“The last half dozen games we’ve really started slow, which is a concern,” Maloney told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, the team’s flagship radio station, on Wednesday. “We’re getting behind a goal or two and chasing games, and even though we had a little bit of success last week when we were in California (and at home vs. Edmonton), that’s not a recipe for long-term success.”

Arizona, which resumes a four-game road trip Thursday night at Montreal, has been outscored 8-3 in the first period in the past six games.

“We have to find a way to get ahead of teams or at least start better in the first period,” Maloney said. “It seems to me we’re dipping our toe in the water a little bit more versus just going out and playing. We do have good team speed and energy in this group and we have to bring it from the drop of the puck and not wait to see how the game is progressing before we start turning it on.”

• Maloney also would like to see improvement by the team’s power-play unit, which ranks 30th in the NHL at 12.5 percent.

“It’s frustrating. If you think about the last couple years our power play was one of the best in the League,” Maloney said. “What’s encouraging me is that our 5-on-5 play is so much better. We know if we can stay even strength that we can stay in most games… (The power play) is certainly a sore spot for us right now. It has to be better… We don’t have Keith Yandle anymore but we certainly have enough talent to score.”

• Defenseman Klas Dahlbeck is quietly having a solid season. Dahlbeck, who entered the season with 23 games on his NHL resume, leads rookie defensemen in hits with 37, and ranks tied for third in goals (two) and fifth in blocked shots (19). His plus/minus rating is plus-3.

• In three games played at the Bell Centre, where the Coyotes drafted him sixth overall in 2009, defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson has tallied one goal. He scored it last season, unassisted, in a 3-2 win – the first for the Coyotes at Montreal since 1996-97.

• Defenseman Nicklas Grossmann, who has missed the past five games because of a lower-body injury, skated Tuesday in Montreal but won’t play Thursday against the Canadiens.

“He’s getting closer,” Head Coach Dave Tippett told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM on Wednesday. “I would suspect he’ll practice again tomorrow and Friday, and then we’ll see where he is on Saturday (in Winnipeg).”

• Prospect Dylan Strome, whom the Coyotes drafted third overall this year, was named the Canadian Hockey League’s Player of the Week for the week ending Nov. 15 after notching three goals and seven assists in four games for Erie of the Ontario Hockey League. Prospect Conor Garland, who notched seven assists for Moncton of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, also was considered for the award. The Coyotes picked Garland 123rd overall at this year’s draft.

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