Jump to content
  • entries
  • comments
  • views

Feast or Famine: Arizona Coyotes




Feast or Famine: The Arizona Coyotes 2015-16 Season


The early additions of Max Domi and Anthony Duclair to the roster have seen superb returns through 13 games for the young Arizona Coyotes. A 6-6-1 record leaves the impression of a team still in the thick of a rebuild. Obviously, the 2nd worst team last season doesn’t inspire visions of raising Lord Stanley’s Cup, but so far they have not conceited to the early predictions of a race for Arizona’s own Austin Matthews as the #1 pick in next year’s draft.


After surprising everyone with a quick three game winning streak to start the season, the Coyotes have been a Jekyll and Hyde act. On nights like Thursday, a 4-2 win vs. Colorado they play fast and make few mistakes. Then come nights like Saturday’s 4-1 loss against the New York Rangers where sloppy play, bad judgment, and poor goaltending put them behind the 8 ball quickly. The young Coyotes are torn between the upstart team they want to be, and the disappointment they have been for the past two seasons.


Getting back Antoine Vermette (trade to Chicago) and Martin Hanzel (back surgery) helped give depth back to the ‘Yotes center position. Their leadership and skill was prevalent during the three game win streak to kick off the season. Unfortunately both have struggled to stay healthy in the early season. The most surprising with Vermette who has missed 5 of 13 games after playing in nearly 250 straight games. Hanzel however, has adjusted quickly to having Anthony Duclair and Tobias Rieder on his sides. In his first 11 games the 6’6, 28 year old assistant captain has 12 assists ranking 5th in the NHL.


The defensive corps has gotten quite the by adding veteran Nicklas Grossman who, like Derek Morris before him, gives the blue line for Arizona some much needed moxy. Grossman along with the returning Zbynek Michalek, who spent the end of last season on what felt like a loan in St. Louis, are the only two defenseman over the age of 30.


Klas Dahlbeck, Connor Murphy, Michael Stone and struggling star Oliver Ekman-Larsson are all under 25. A fact that is not quickly forgotten when you watch them struggle with turnovers in the neutral zone, and trying to connect on passes with the speedsters at forward. As the season progresses the chemistry on these outlet passes must improve if the Coyotes hope to best utilize their number one weapon Max Domi.


In an offseason that included so much hype for the Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel story maybe the most dangerous rookie this season thus far has been Max Domi. He plays fast on both ends of the ice and his breakaway style and amazing puck handling is unlike anyone the Coyotes franchise. The franchise is no doubt putting a lot into believing this group of young stars can change the culture of losing in the desert.


20-year-old Domi has been the lightning rod of excitement for his team through the first 13 games producing 11 points (6G, 5A), and playing along fellow emerging stars, 25-year-old Mikkel Boedker (4G, 6A), 24-year-old Oliver Ekman-Larson, 20-year-old Duclair, and 22-year-old Rieder. Recognizing the youth movement within the organization the public relations team with the Coyotes has tagged the team with a brilliant call to the young fans of the area, “WE are NOT your father’s original 6, WE ARE A NEW BREED.” If young fans can’t get excited for this talented roster in Arizona, not much about hockey will excite them.


In a small sample size of the season the Coyotes find themselves sitting 9th in the Western Conference standings. Benefited by the slow starts of Anaheim and Calgary in the Pacific. If Arizona truly wants to make a playoff push through 82 games however the formula really comes down to 2 main parts. First is goalie Mike Smith, he began the season hot and had many believing he had returned to his 2012 form that took his team to the Conference Final. His struggle this season is his 3.25 GAA in twelve games. Anders Lindback has looked solid as the backup, and may see more time in between the pipes if Smith can’t perform.


The most important formula for the Arizona Coyotes is to continue the trend towards the playoffs rather than the #1 pick is the play of the veterans that fill out the roster. Brad Richardson and Boyd Gordon have been solid additions. While John Scott, Joe Vitale and Steve Downie can add toughness to the 4th line, but the Coyotes will need more than that out of them in the months of March and April. The fate of the season may now more than ever before sit on captain Shane Doan’s. Doan and line mate most nights, Kyle Chipchura along with rookie Jordan Martinook have provided the guts to Domi and Duclair’s glory, and that will have to continue.


To avoid another lost season of Arizona hockey. No factor is more important than realizing that the Coyotes don’t need a superstar, more than a solid team effort every night. Blocked shots and smart defense in the neutral zone are not sexy statistics, winning defensive zone face-offs, and staying out of the penalty box may not be on the forefront of every fan that goes to a hockey game, but the fundamentals more than ever need to be pressed upon Coach Dave Tippet’s young squad especially if the hope to stay out of the Austin Matthews sweepstakes.


Written by Inside Edge Hockey News - Will Rogers II



Photo By: USAToday Sports Images

  • Like 1


Recommended Comments

There are no comments to display.

Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...