If the Phoenix Coyotes snap their run of three straight Stanley Cup Playoff appearances this spring, you can blame Thursdays.
The Coyotes lost to Vancouver 2-1 — their fifth straight loss overall and the fifth straight game where they failed to score a single goal in the first two periods. So in seven games played on Thursday this season, Phoenix is 0-7 and has been outscored by 17 goals (29-12).
Want more bad news? Phoenix has three more Thursday games among their final 17 this season — road trips to Nashville and St. Louis and a home game with Detroit. Do I hear 0-for-10?
The Coyotes are still in the playoff picture, but one more bad week of no goals and no points could turn General Manager Don Maloney into a seller at the trade deadline. Players like Raffi Torres, Boyd Gordon and Steve Sullivan — who has been a real disappointment and nothing close to a replacement for Ray Whitney — might entice teams looking to stock up for a playoff run.
Revenge of the Nerds
If you had Harvard beating New Mexico in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday, I want to see the rest of that bracket you constructed. I’m betting there are 64 dart holes on it.
But for those who took a flyer on Belmont or Bucknell or Saint Mary’s, and had five or six losses on opening day, don’t fret. Those who gloat now rarely have staying power in this three-week odyssey. Defend the castle — keep your Elite Eight and Final Four intact — and we’ll see where the water cooler warriors wind up.
Nice to see Oregon and Cal prove that the selection committee was out to lunch when it came to Pac-12 basketball this year. Seeding the Ducks and Golden Bears as 12 seeds was an injustice to the teams they beat — Oklahoma State and UNLV — who wound up being penalized instead of rewarded for their seasons. Think the Runnin’ Rebels would have rather opened against the No. 11 (Bucknell)? Would the Cowboys have rather seen No. 10 Cincinnati?
What Exactly is the Plan?
When Lindsey Hunter took over for Alvin Gentry 28 games and 18 losses ago, the Phoenix Suns said the rest of the season would be devoted to seeing exactly what they had in the young players on their roster.
But two nights after placating the suffering fans with a win over the Lakers, Marcus Morris went from starter to DNP-Coaches’ decision and brother Markieff, Michael Beasley and Kendall Marshall watched most of the second half of Wednesday’s loss to Washington from the end of the bench.
Were the kids playing horrible? Yup. Did they deserve what happened? Probably. But to use guys like Shannon Brown to prove a point rather than have them play through the valleys tells you two things:
• Developing young players is fine, but there may not be a whole lot here to develop. Beasley, who has played great in four games against the Lakers and averaged nine points a game the rest of the year, was praised by Hunter for being “attentive” against the Lakers. Attentive? The man makes $6 million a year. Is two hours of his undivided attention every night too much to ask?
• Hunter knows there is still an “interim coach” tag next to his name and there have been too many embarrassing efforts and 60- and 70-point games over the last two months to make anyone feel good about the culture change he’s proposing. The Suns have always been an up-tempo, fast-paced, entertaining team that was at least fun when they lost. Boring and bad isn’t going to play here — boring and good might be a stretch.
Outside of Goran Dragic — who must be rethinking his decision to return to the desert last summer — there’s not a lot to get excited about on Planet Orange. The Wizards swept the Suns for the first time in 25 years this week. They are a better team than Phoenix and have a much brighter future. Wow.
Jerry Brown is a contributing columnist who appears every Sunday in the Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.