‘Yotes Notes: Arizona has 50 points in 53 games since October
TUCSON, Ariz. — The Coyotes enjoyed an off day in Vancouver on Thursday so there was no update on the status of goalie Antti Raanta or forward Zac Rinaldo, and there was no announcement from Alex and Amanda Goligoski on the awaited birth of their second child.
The Coyotes don’t play again until Saturday afternoon in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche.
With a 2-1 win over the Canucks, Arizona is 9-2-2 in its past 13 games and has improved its record to 21-34-11. Since going 1-11-1 in October, Arizona is 20-23-10 and has climbed into a tie with the Buffalo Sabers for the fewest points in the league (53).
TOUCH VS. POSSESSION
Vancouver scored its only goal of the game against the Coyotes on Wednesday on a delayed penalty with 15.1 seconds left in the first period.
Before the goal, the Coyotes touched the puck twice, but as Coyotes television play-by-play man Matt McConnell somewhat derisively noted, “we have a possession ref” who was looking for the Coyotes to gain possession of the puck, not just touch it.
Here is how the relevant section of rule 15.1 reads.
“Should an infraction of the rules which would call for a minor, major, misconduct, game misconduct or match penalty be committed by a player of the team not in control of the puck, the Referee shall raise his arm to signal the delayed calling of a penalty. When the team to be penalized gains control of the puck, the Referee will blow his whistle to stop play and impose the penalty on the offending player.”
Does control mean possession or simply controlling where the puck goes? Maybe the rule would be clearer by simply changing the word “control” to “possess,” or maybe this rule needs clarification. Some officials blow the whistle on touch; others wait for possession. There should be no variance. If officials are looking for possession, state that plainly, but everyone should call the game the same.
ROADRUNNERS GEARING UP FOR PLAYOFFS
The American Hockey League season runs a week later than the NHL season, but the Pacific Division plays fewer games due to travel costs and concerns. The Tucson Roadrunners have 16 games left in their season.
Entering Friday’s game, Tucson is in first place in the Pacific with a 30-17-4-1 record and a .625 winning percentage that ranks second in the Western Conference and seventh in the AHL. The Roadrunners are mirroring the Coyotes’ systems so there is continuity throughout the organization. Tucson has played well most of the season, but coach Mike Van Ryn said there was an adjustment period similar to what the Coyotes experienced the first three months of the NHL season.
“At the start they weren’t too sure, they weren’t comfortable to go as hard as they needed to go to play the system we have in place,” Van Ryn said. “Now they’re comfortable with it and having fun with it. They know what to expect and they know what it takes.”
While the Roadrunners would like to stay in first, Van Ryn said he isn’t thinking much about seeding for the playoffs. Tucson is 17-6-2-1 on the road; 13-11-2-0 at home.
CHECKING IN WITH LAWSON CROUSE
When the Coyotes re-assigned forward Lawson Crouse to Tucson on Jan. 5, they asked him to work on his puck skills.
“The biggest thing for me is just holding onto pucks and making plays,” said Crouse, who has eight goals and 20 points in 40 games. “When you get to that next level it’s obviously much more difficult but I think this is a really good level to work on that and continue to grow.”
Van Ryn said Crouse has learned to protect the puck a lot better and extend plays.
“Recently, he hasn’t been his best because he hasn’t been real healthy,” Van Ryn said. “It’s hard this time of year, too, when there are call-ups and there aren’t many games left. You want that chance and I’ve been that guy but you never fault his work ethic.
“He’s been a linear guy most of his life and now he’s realizing there are some other things he can try. He’s still trying to figure out where that line is — I think his soft-touch skills are getting a little better — but I think he’s starting to become a more well-rounded player.”
— In three games with Arizona, goalie Darcy Kuemper has stopped 72 of 80 shots for a .900 save percentage.
— Clayton Keller and Derek Stepan each have four points (one goal, three assists) in four March games.
Coyotes at Avalanche
When: 1 p.m., Saturday
Where: Pepsi Center, Denver
TV: FOX Sports Arizona Plus
Radio: ESPN 620 AM
Records: Avalanche — 36-20-7. Coyotes — 21-34-11.
Season series: Tied 1-1
Injury report: Avalanche — Sven Andrighetto (lower body) has been cleared to play. D Mark Barberio (upper body), G Andrew Hammond (concussion) and Vladislav Kamenev (fractured arm) are day-to-day. Erik Johnson (upper body) and Colin Wilson (concussion) are out indefinitely. Coyotes — F Zac Rinaldo (upper body) and G Antti Raanta (lower body) are day to day. D Alex Goligoski (expecting second child) is away from the team indefinitely.
Avalanche scouting report: Colorado entered Thursday’s game at Columbus tied with the Los Angeles Kings for the second wild card in the Western Conference. … Center Nathan MacKinnon is having a Hart Trophy caliber year. He was tied for fifth in points with 78 despite playing just 58 games. His 1.34 points per game leads all NHL players. … Colorado has one of the leagues’ best home records at 23-8-2.