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Coyotes GM John Chayka not concerned with early goal drought

Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) gets a face full of ice as he blocks a shot from Arizona Coyotes' Richard Panik (14) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet said what fans probably wanted and needed to hear after the team lost its second consecutive game via shutout to start the season.

“We’ve got to chill out here. We’ve played two pretty good games and we can’t score right now, it is what it is.”

It may seem dishonest or overly optimistic to say that a team failing to score through two hours of hockey is not something to be concerned about. But the numbers paint a picture: The Arizona Coyotes are actually playing quality hockey. They just haven’t finished on their scoring chances.

According to the hockey statistics website Natural Stat Trick, the Coyotes are ranked fourth in the NHL in 5-on-5 scoring-chances-for percentage, which measures what percentage of total scoring chances in a game were generated by the team in question when the teams were each playing at full strength.

Only the New Jersey Devils (67.57 percent), Vegas Golden Knights (63.55 percent) and San Jose Sharks (62.79 percent) had a better mark entering Wednesday than the Coyotes’ 61.18 percent.

“We’ve played well. I think any offensive player will tell you they don’t get worried when they don’t score, they get worried when they stop getting chances,” GM John Chayka said Wednesday to Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

“Look, we’ve out-chanced teams 2-1, 3-1 in the first two games here. We’ve played well, I like our structure, we’ve played tight, we haven’t given up much. We’ve actually been able to create quite a bit. We’ve got a few breakaways, some hit posts, some missed empty nets. Those things happen throughout a season, so we keep playing this way through 82 games, we’ll be in good shape.”

The Coyotes gave up three goals in a span of 96 seconds against the Dallas Stars in their first game of the season last Thursday. That short span of lapses was enough to sink Arizona, which lost 3-0 but out-shot Dallas 30-25 against goalie Ben Bishop (Bishop went on to win the NHL’s “Third Star of the Week” award).

In game two, the Coyotes had 41 shots to Anaheim’s 20, won 54 percent of faceoffs and lost by a narrow margin of 1-0.

Now, they’re set to be the last team in the NHL to score its first goal of this season when it plays the Ducks again, this time in Anaheim on Wednesday night.

“I can’t fault the guys for effort one bit,” Chayka said. “They’ve played hard, we played well. We haven’t given teams much. It’s just one of those dry spells. I know we’re not going to shoot zero percent for the season. We got a lot of good offensive players, good goal-scorers, we brought some guys in. We’ve got some guys that are injured right now that can bring us some offensive help in the near future. I think long-term, we’re not too worried about our offense.”

You can hear the Coyotes’ game against the Ducks at 7 p.m. Wednesday on ESPN 620 AM.

“Obviously you’ve got to score to win. It’s just about tonight and getting on the board and hopefully getting a win. That’s the goal.”

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