For the most part, it’s been a season to forget for the Arizona Coyotes.
Even when things are starting to look up, the team gets knocked back down to earth — hard.
Take the Coyotes’ recent slate of games, for example. They put together consecutive wins over Edmonton, Anaheim and Philadelphia before getting blasted 6-0 in Dallas. Then, Arizona turned around and beat the Columbus Blue Jackets in convincing fashion 6-3, only to get walloped at home by St. Louis 6-0. The Coyotes rebounded from the Blues’ shutout to handily beat Winnipeg 4-1 on Thursday.
Despite playing better of late, the Coyotes still have the second-fewest points in the Western Conference standings, and there is plenty of blame to go around.
With that in mind, we asked in our most recent Sanderson Ford Poll Question of the Day, which can be found in the right-hand column of our home page, what the biggest reason is for Arizona’s struggles this season.
With exactly 50 percent of the vote (121 out of 242 total voters), “inconsistent goaltending” was the most popular answer in the poll.
Heading into Thursday’s meeting with Winnipeg, the Coyotes were surrendering 3.28 goals per game — the third-worst mark in the NHL. Mike Smith’s season has mostly been a nightmare. Even though he picked up a win Thursday, he still has just a 7-16-2 record on the season and a goals against average that is hovering around 3.50. Devan Dubnyk has been much better on paper, but he’s suffered some lapses as well.
Another poll option that got a lot of votes was “lack of offense,” which was clicked on by 38 percent of respondents (93 overall). Arizona has yet to reach 100 overall goals this season, and as of Thursday night, only three players are in double-figures in goals scored.
The “other” option in our poll took 8 percent of the vote (20 overall). If we were to guess what those 20 voters had in mind, it could be anything from coaching to the defense that has allowed opponents to bombard Smith and Dubnyk with shots on goal.
The least popular choice in the poll was “poor penalty killing,” which took just 3 percent of the vote (eight people total). Arizona went into Thursday’s game with a league-worst penalty kill percentage of 73.8, although Winnipeg went scoreless on seven power-play opportunities in the Coyotes’ victory.