The Arizona Coyotes are in an interesting spot as we head into their game tonight against the Vancouver Canucks.
They are first in the Pacific Division with 57 points and 49 games played. They’ve made some important acquisitions with Phil Kessel coming over from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the summer and Taylor Hall arriving in a trade last month from the New Jersey Devils.
The Coyotes visit Vancouver and then the Edmonton Oilers for two critical Pacific Division matchups this week. They follow that up with games against the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings next Wednesday and Thursday.
Can Hall Push Arizona’s Offence Over the Top?
Hall may only be a rental for this season, but he along with Kessel scored two goals in their win over the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday. The Coyotes beat the Sharks 6-3 and currently have 11 more points than a Sharks team thought by many to be among the best in the Western Conference. Hall has six goals and seven assists in the 14 games he’s played.
Schmaltz has 7 goals and 28 assists for 35 points to lead the team with Keller having 32 points and Kessel 30.
Coyotes’ Crease An Interesting Case Study
Darcy Kuemper was on fire for the Coyotes right up until his injury on Dec. 19. He was fourth among goaltenders who have played at least ten games this season with a save percentage (SV%) of .929 and goals-against average (GAA) of 2.17.
Kuemper won’t play in this year’s All-Star game in St Louis due to the injury. Normally Antti Raanta would replace him but he is out too with a lower-body injury. Raanta won the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015 and is a capable backup. He has a 9-9-2 record with a .919 SV% and a 2.72 GAA. He could return Thursday against the Canucks or Saturday against the Oilers.
Adin Hill will continue to shoulder the load in goal for the Coyotes until Raanta’s given the green light. Hill has a resume that includes 24 games of total NHL experience with a .917 SV% and a 2.61 GAA in his career. He has to play with the injuries as does Ivan Prosvetov who was a 2018 fourth-round pick that went 114th overall.
Defence Another Strong Part of Coyotes’ Game
The Coyotes have the third-best goals-against record in the Western Conference as well as the fourth-best even-strength save percentage. Their top six includes the following:
Alex Goligoski is their top point-getter with 25 points and captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson has 20 points. Larsson is their go-to defensemen and was a first-round pick in 2009. He has played his whole career with the club.
There are no standout defensemen on this roster in terms of elite players like an Erik Karlsson in San Jose or a young star like the Canucks’ Quinn Hughes but they get it done and are effective night after night. Niklas Hjalmarsson is a three-time cup winner with the Chicago Blackhawks.
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