Forget your concerns about goalie Curtis Joseph.
You can direct them, instead toward the Coyotes’ offense.
While Shane Doan’s deflection of a Sean O’Donnell shot with 4:42 remaining Saturday left everyone at Glendale Arena feeling good about a 2-1 Phoenix win — the club’s first of the season — it was Joseph who stole this game.
Minnesota pounded the Phoenix netminder with 13 first-period shots, including a couple of great opportunities on a 5-on-3 power play, yet the Coyotes somehow emerged, tied 1-1.
"That’s what a great goaltender will do is keep you in games and give you a chance to win," Phoenix forward Mike Johnson said.
Unfortunately for Joseph — like Sean Burke before him — that may be the nightly script for the Coyotes this season.
Thirty minutes before Saturday’s opening face-off, the Glendale Arena videoboards were flashing scores from around the league.
Ottawa dropped a five-spot on Buffalo, Atlanta scored eight on Washington, San Jose came back from a 4-2 deficit to beat St. Louis 7-6 and Boston beat Pittsburgh 7-6.
Everywhere you looked, signs of the NHL’s new emphasis on offense and excitement abounded — except in Glendale.
Sure it’s early — very early — but Saturday was the home opener, a chance to flash all that talent the club acquired in the past 1 1/2 years.
Instead, Joseph was doing hand stands — and doing them very well — to keep the Coyotes within striking distance.
In eight preseason games, Phoenix scored just 19 goals (2.4 per game).
In three regular season games, the Coyotes have just six.
"We’re not a dominant offensive team," Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said. "We’re not going to win 7-2. We’ve got to play within a system."
The Coyotes are doing that fairly well in three one-goal games, and Joseph looks completely healed from the ankle surgery that hampered him during the 2003-2004 season.
But how many games can Phoenix expect Joseph to steal when he’s getting as much offensive support as Randy Johnson did last year at Bank One Ballpark?
Take away Ladislav Nagy’s penalty shot Saturday and the Phoenix offense had something in common with every hormone-driven adolescent boy — one goal.
The play of forwards Mike Comrie and Krystofer Kolanos is still defined more by promise than production, Mike Leclerc may be another of general manager Mike Barnett’s "potential 20-goal scorers" that never sniffs that mark, and Brett Hull is skating at a pace more becoming his long-retired father, Bobby, who incidentally, is looking more and more like William Shatner as each day passes.
As long as we’re referencing the Priceline pitchman, anybody heard of a good deal for a goalscoring forward?
The Coyotes don’t have enough finishers.
Phoenix seemed to admit as much by acquiring 33-year-old forward Geoff Sanderson. The veteran has six 30-goal seasons to his credit and two 40-goal campaigns, although it’s notable that he only notched 16 in 2003-2004.
"His speed and skill will help our offense," captain Shane Doan said.
Maybe it’s just rust. Maybe it’s all the new guys in the locker room. Maybe this new-rules adjustment period will just take a little longer in the desert. We in the Valley do tend to catch onto trends — like spending on public education — long after the rest of the nation has embraced them.
But even Joseph seemed to sense the situation after Saturday’s win.
"We have to win the close ones," he said. "We know we’re going to be in a dogfight every night."
Burke uttered similar mantras. Despite his best efforts, we all know how those seasons ended.