Coyotes A Great Story for the League A Quarter Through the season
While all those teams deserve attention for their fine play so far this season, one team that should be getting a lot more attention to the Phoenix Coyotes. Considering all the trouble that this franchise has gone through over the last few seasons behind the scenes, the Coyotes should be considered one of the best stories in the league this season.
As of this writing, the Coyotes are sixth in both the Western Conference and entire NHL with 32 points. The club is just two points behind the Western Conference and league-leading Chicago Blackhawks and is playing like a contender through the first quarter of the season.
For the Coyotes, it all starts with the play of their starting goaltender Mike Smith. In 20 games this season, the 31-year-old netminder is 12-3-4 with a 2.92 goals against average, a .915 save percentage and also has a goal this season.
The numbers above may not be near the top of the league in terms of goaltending success but there is no doubt that Smith’s play between the pipes has a positive impact on the team in front of him. Smith plays with confidence, plays big in the net, can stop first and second shots and can come up with the big save when his team needs one, which is really all one can ask out of your starting masked man.
The team is also having success this season because of its offense. This may be hard to believe considering the trouble the Coyotes had putting the puck in the net over the last two seasons, but the team is currently fourth in the league in averaging just over three goals per game.
The Coyotes may not have a lot of offensive superstars but what they do have is tremendous depth. The team has nine players in double digits in terms of points while also having six players with five or more goals so far this season.
Leading the way offensively for the Coyotes are the likes of Martin Hanzal (seven goals and 12 assists for 19 points), Shane Doan (10 goals and seven assists for 17 points), Radim Vrbata (six goals and 11 assists for 17 points), and Mike Ribeiro (six goals and 10 assists for 16 points). The rest of the team’s offense is coming from depth players so for the Coyotes, the team basically has at least three lines that can produce.
Defensively, the Coyotes are 25th in the league and are allowing just over three goals a game. While this is not surprising because of the conference they play in, it is something that they need to tweak moving forward if they want to be looked at as a playoff contender this season.
In a season where a lot has already happened, the Coyotes are proving to be one of the best stories in hockey this year. Should the team continue its strong play and find their way into the postseason, the story might just get even better.