GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The Phoenix Coyotes have not played with the desperation needed for a team with such a low margin of error, at least not when they need it most.
The simple plays, the ones they've relied on the past three seasons, have become complicated, the extra pass costing them shots on goal.
The team game has become scattered, many players pulling in opposite directions instead of tugging the rope as one.
And, on the most basic level, the puck isn't going into the net.
The Coyotes are reeling and need to get back on track quick in this truncated season or their string of playoff appearances will be over.
"Right now we're just not doing enough to win," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said Friday after the Coyotes went through a hard practice at Jobing.com Arena. "A lot of guys try hard, but it's what you do after you try hard that sometimes dictates wins."
Effort has carried the Coyotes through the past three seasons without an owner, their gritty, stay-at-home style leading to three straight postseason runs, including the Western Conference finals last season.
Phoenix has played to its strengths only in spurts this season, leaving the Coyotes at the edge of the Western Conference playoff picture.
Right now, they're in a stretch where nothing seems to be going right.
Starting slow, unable to score and chasing from behind in just about every game, the Coyotes have lost five straight after Thursday night's 2-1 loss to Vancouver, which prompted a players-only team meeting that lasted nearly 25 minutes after it was over.
"Every single guy can be better at some point," a grim Coyotes captain Shane Doan said after the team meeting. "The only way this works here is because as a whole, we've been good. Individually, we have to be better and that's all that matters. To a man, we're accountable and it's not working. We're not good enough right now."
The Coyotes' recent funk began with a 3-0 loss at St. Louis on March 14, kicking off a stretch of 245 minutes, 32 seconds and 133 straight shots without scoring a goal. Phoenix was shut out three straight games for the first time in the franchise's 33-year NHL history and four straight games on the road, including a 2-0 loss to Anaheim the week before, the first time that's happened since the Oakland Seals went goal-less in four straight in 1967-68.
One problem during the streak has been slow starts.