When Dave Tippett finally reached the podium Friday night following the Coyotes' 5-4 shootout loss to the Avalanche at Jobing.com Arena, his facial expression looked like that of someone who had been force-fed a deep cup of lukewarm, three-day-old coffee. “I didn’t like that whole game,” Tippett said. “No meaning. Even an exhibition game, you’re evaluating players. Here, you’re just playing.” If this season’s home finale was in fact the final Coyotes home game ever played in Arizona, it was at once both an unfair swan song of what this group has accomplished in its last few seasons and a fitting end to this frustrating season. The Coyotes blew an early two-goal lead, goalie Mike Smith was mediocre in net, there were maddening defensive lapses for a club that prides itself on Tupperware tightness and, of course, there was a head-scratching loss to an unworthy opponent. “It’s been a frustrating year. There are a lot of tight games where we’re losing in shootouts,” forward Antoine Vermette said. “It’s one point, yes, but if you look at the big picture of the standings at the end of the year, it’s so tight, and those (lost) points were crucial.” The Coyotes will wrap up their season Saturday night in Anaheim and then break apart for what promises to be a lengthy and eventful offseason. There are numerous well-chronicled issues the club must address before training camp begins next fall. Smith is a free agent, and the Coyotes must decide the price at which he’s worth bringing back. Forwards Boyd Gordon, Kyle Chipchura, Rob Klinkhammer, Chris Conner and Alex Bolduc are unrestricted free agents, as are backup goalies Jason LaBarbera and Chad Johnson. Forwards Mikkel Boedker and Lauri Korpikoski as well as defenseman Michael Stone are restricted free agents. Tippett and general manager Don Maloney both have expiring contracts. And, of course, the team still does not have an owner, which Tippett believes had a greater impact this season than in any of the previous three rudderless campaigns.
Frustration tangible as Coyotes' season ends
Fox Sports Arizona | Apr 27