The Runner Sports

Arizona Coyotes Offense Analysis

How did the Arizona Coyotes offense do?

Not too well. Scoring just 2.33 goals a game will not get you in the win column very often. What’s even worse, the Arizona Coyotes were dead last in shots for (3,410) vs shots against (4,160). The closest team to them in this undesirable statistic was the Buffalo Sabres who had a shot differential of -409 compared to the Yotes’ -750.

Of course, any true hockey fan realizes the reason for this… poor puck possession. The team was 29th in takeaways, which shows their ability to get the puck was extremely lacking. You can’t score if you don’t have the puck. Then, when you get a power play, good teams take advantage of the situation to score. The Arizona Coyotes were not one of those teams. They ranked 27th in power-play goals with only 38, or a 16.2% success rate.

When you have the puck, shots on goal are the only way to score a goal. In that category, the Coyotes certainly need some improvement. They were 28th with just 27.8 shots on net. Shots against details more insightfully their ineptness to defend (which affects their offense) with 34.1 shots allowed on their beleaguered netminders. It’s no wonder that Mike Smith and Louie Domingue didn’t wave a white surrender flag at times, they were being attacked so regularly.

The Coyotes had only one player to break the 20-goal mark, and that was Radim Vrbata. You must go back to the successful 2011-12 season to find a player who scored more than 30 goals in a season. That, again, was Vrbata who collected 35 that year. As far as the power play goes, Oliver Ekman-Larsson took that category with eight man-advantage tallies.

Time to upgrade

It’s very obvious that the team needs to upgrade its offense. Whether that goal is obtained through trades, free agency, or having one of the many prospects start to excel is uncertain at this time. And, it really doesn’t matter. A good team has a more than adequate offense, and a stingy defense with solid goaltending. A team like the Dallas Stars had two players who scored 26 goals in Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. They only excelled the Coyotes’ point total by nine since their defense (especially goaltending) was sub-par.

You can be certain that the Arizona’s brass is hard at work already to see what can be done to improve the team. Offensively, they have a ways to go. Injuries to key forwards like Brad Richardson and Max Domi didn’t help the offense at all. Then, follow that with the extreme downfall of Anthony Duclair, who scored 20 goals last season, and the picture is clear that things must change.

Rebuild is still a work in progress

When you look at the fact that the Arizona Coyotes are still rebuilding the team with some young, talented prospects, excuses can be made for their lack of making the playoffs five seasons in a row. Taking a glance at some of the forwards on the team who can help in the offensive department shows there is hope down the road.

  • Christian Dvorak

Christian Dvorak came in and did the job, and when Martin Hanzal was traded, he knew he had to step up. He did just that showing 15 goals and 18 assists in 78 games. He is one cool customer who shows little emotion and brings potential to be a very solid, key performer down the middle of the ice for years to come. His 46.8% faceoff win ratio was by far the best on team behind Hanzal. He has some slick moves, and can score with the best of them. He also led the team in +/- with a +7.

  • Brendan Perlini

Perlini came in from the AHL Tucson Roadrunners to show he can assist the weak offense. He tallied 14 goals and seven assists in 57 games. He possesses a wicked wrist shot, and speed to elude his defenders. His progress should definitely be an integral part of the team’s increased offensive arsenal. He has the tools to be a 20-25 goal scorer, and the Coyotes can use as many players in that category as possible.

  • Christian Fischer

Christian Fischer is another good sized player with the potential to fit right into the power forward spot that Shane Doan now fills. If Doan decides to retire, Fischer will have every opportunity to step in and show more of his goal-scoring prowess. In just seven games, Fischer lit the lamp three times, including on his very first NHL shot on goal. This kind of firepower is sorely needed to supply the team with some offense and playoff potential.

  • Lawson Crouse

Crouse is not a scoring machine, but with his size, he can certainly improve upon his scoring ability. He was delegated to the fourth line, and knows his role. If nothing else, he is the type of player who is adept at digging the puck out of the corners and feeding his line-mates. He averages about 12 minutes of ice time a game, and with a year of NHL experience under his belt, he has nothing but a bright future with the team.

  • Clayton Keller

Clayton Keller signed an entry-level contract, and was only able to play in three games. He showed he can make a difference by adding two assists. His speed is something to watch. Add that to the speed the Coyotes already possess, and you can see why the management and coaching staff is excited to add Keller to the lineup. He will fit in more as a winger in the NHL with his smaller stature, but he will do just fine. With his playmaking ability, the offense will be more effective and dangerous.

What happened to the “Killer D’s”?

Good question. Max Domi was injured for 23 games, and Anthony Duclair was missing in action. Duclair’s downfall threw him back in the AHL to find his game. Call it a sophomore slump, but Duclair did show signs of improving at the end of the season. Finishing with just five goals was not helpful at all in the Coyotes’ offensive downfall. In fact, the “Killer D’s” combined offense from last season (20 from Duclair, 18 from Domi) was significantly reduced to five for Duclair, and nine for Domi. That’s 24 goals the offense could have used to secure more victories and a chance for the playoffs.

It took till almost the end of the season before Duclair and Domi could be reunited on the same line, and their magic seemed to reappear, ever so slowly. If Dave Tippett can find a way to keep these two talented forwards on the same line next season, the goals will come. The wins will follow.