NEW YORK --
For the first time under coach Dave Tippett
, the Phoenix Coyotes
are finding themselves in a prolonged slump.
The Coyotes enter Madison Square Garden on Tuesday with losses in 10 of their last 15 games to face the League-leading Rangers, who have won four straight and nine of 10. It's the start of three-game road trip through New York, Detroit and Columbus that marks the final portion of a grueling stretch for the Coyotes that started in late November.
"We haven't been as good as we've wanted to be for the last three weeks," said Coyotes captain Shane Doan
, who netted his first career hat trick in 1,161 career games in a 5-1 win against the Islanders on Saturday. "We haven't had a long, bad losing streak, but we've lost three here, two more there, and it adds up. As a team, we hadn't lost three straight previous to that in the two years that Tipp's been our coach, so we have to get it going back in the right direction."
Performing well in these three road games before a stretch of seven of eight games at home is important for the Coyotes.
"It's huge for us," Doan said. "There's only been one game since Nov. 25 where we haven't had a flight right after the game. It's been a tough stretch. We're getting through it and this is the last part of it. Once we get through this part, I hope we'll be going in the right direction."
A win against the Rangers would be a confidence-boosting start for the struggling Coyotes, but it won't be easy. The Rangers are 12-3-2 at home this season and have just one loss at home in their last six games at MSG since Dec. 11.
Some teams get excited by the prospect of measuring up against one of the League's better teams, but Doan isn't looking at Tuesday's matchup exactly like that.
"I think whenever you play one of the better teams, yeah, you want to do well," Doan said. "But I think the League is so tight. Next week, there could be six other teams at the top because there's no one team that's running away with anything yet. Obviously they're playing really well, when you look at what they've done in their last 10 games to put themselves in that position."
Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo