What has been driving the Coyotes' recent success?

Mar 19, 2023 - 6:00 PM
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Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

It’s safe to say the Arizona Coyotes are doing better than most people expected. Moreover, they are likely doing better than General Manager Bill Armstrong expected when he traded Nick Bjugstad, Jakob Chychrun, and Shayne Gostisbehere away in the lead-up to the trade deadline.

Many fans are concerned that the Coyotes are ruining their chance at drafting a generational talent. That is understandable, we knew that the season would be painful, but there would hopefully be a reward for that pain.

But as the saying goes, players don’t tank, and the Coyotes continue to get points. Many of their points this season have been overtime points, with the Coyotes having the second-most loser points, behind only the Dallas Stars.

If you watched the Coyotes all season, the fact that they are second in their division in overtime points should not surprise you. Throughout the season, the Coyotes found themselves behind in the third period, only to claw their way back to tie things up before the end of regulation. The competitiveness and unwillingness to quit have been a hallmark of the Desert Dogs this season, and it will be a quality they can hopefully continue to display over the next few years.

Overtime has been a big part of the Coyotes’ success during the point streak. Half the games were decided after regulation, including back-to-back overtime wins over the Minnesota Wild and Calgary Flames. Add in some more skilled players like Logan Cooley or an NHL-ready Dylan Guenther, and the Coyotes may find a way to turn their overtime losses into wins next.

But the Coyotes aren’t just ahead because they are getting free points. Arizona is also seeing phenomenal seasons from its players, many of whom will be in the team’s plans moving forward.

First, we need to talk about the season that Clayton Keller is having. Keller leads the team in all categories, with 32 goals, 43 assists, and 75 points in 70 games. He is tied for 20th in points in the NHL and is currently set to exceed Ray Whitney (77 points) and Radim Vrbata (35 goals) from the 2011-12 season, which saw the Coyotes advance to the Western Conference Finals.

But it’s not just the fact that Keller is having one the best seasons in Coyotes’ history; he is a long-term member of the team. Keller is locked in for another five seasons and will be a crucial piece of the Coyotes moving forward.

And it’s not just Keller, other veterans are having career seasons that are contributing to the Coyotes’ success. Lawson Crouse’s 22 goals are a new career high, and three of his goals have come in his last nine games. In addition, Nick Schmaltz has missed 19 games but has already reached the 20-goal plateau for the third time in his career and his second straight season.

Keller and the other veterans have looked great during the Coyotes’ recent point streak. Keller has seven goals and nine assists over the past eight games, while Schmaltz has three goals and two assists in five games. Crouse has two goals and four assists in eight games, which is still respectable for what will likely be a pillar of the Coyotes’ third line.

But it isn’t just the players who have been here for years taking the next step, the Coyotes are getting plenty of offense from their younger players. During the Coyotes’ recent eight-game point streak, Barrett Hayton is 4-8-12, Matias Maccelli is 3-6-9, Juuso Välimäki is 1-8-9, and Jack McBain is 3-4-7. Any rebuild needs quality prospects, and the Coyotes have found their younger players ready to go.

In addition to the skaters, the Coyotes have also been getting great goaltending, especially from their younger netminders. The Coyotes have started 25-year-old Connor Ingram three starts during the point streak, and he made 118 saves on 129 shots for a .915 save percentage, while the 24-year-old Ivan Prosvetov has made 100 saves on 105 shots for an astonishing .952 save percentage in his three games played.

It is completely understandable if you want the Coyotes to have the best odds leading to the draft lottery. But even if the Coyotes are playing their way out of a good lottery spot, their success is at least being buoyed by players who will be with the team for the foreseeable future.

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