SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The preseason is rarely a good barometer of what’s to come in the regular season. With so many players getting a look during training camp, teams rarely dress their full lineups and rarely ice their eventual lines.
That said, there has been one consistent thread throughout the Coyotes’ preseason games: a lack of scoring. In five games, Arizona has managed just four goals and has been shut out in its last two outings, a 1-0 loss in Vancouver on Monday and a 4-0 loss in Edmonton on Tuesday.
“It’s a concern but we knew that coming in,” coach Dave Tippett said. “We’ve got young players in key roles that are supposed to help provide that offense. That doesn’t exclude any veterans but really, the way our schedule has been set up, we’ve had one game with our full lineup in and I like how many chances we created in that game.”
That game was Monday in Vancouver when the Coyotes lost 1-0 with their regular-season defensive pairings in place and much of their expected lineup. Arizona created numerous chances but couldn’t get anything past Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom, who made 32 saves.
“For 40-some minutes or pretty much the whole game, we controlled it,” forward Shane Doan said. “Give their goaltender credit. He made some good saves, we hit posts and we had some opportunities that we missed. We just have to find ways to bury them.”
The Coyotes are likely to field a forward lineup that includes 2013 first-round pick Max Domi (20), prospect Anthony Duclair (20), who came over in the Keith Yandle trade with the Rangers last season, and perhaps 2015 first-round pick Dylan Strome (18). Tippett knows it is too much to ask those players to shoulder a heavy offensive load at such a young age, but there is still one area where the Coyotes simply need better execution.
“When you get opportunities you’ve got to capitalize on them and we certainly haven’t done enough of that,” he said. “You can always have more chances but to me it’s the finish.”
Tippett dismissed the idea that all the line juggling and experimentation in the preseason has impacted the team’s ability to score.
“Juggling lines has nothing to do with when a guy gets an opportunity with the puck in front of the net and either he scores or doesn’t score,” Tippett said. “It has nothing to do with lines. We’ve created chances but we have to finish.”
The Coyotes will get one more chance to add to their meager goal total when they close the preseason with their first home game on Friday against the San Jose Sharks. The team is expected to make its final cuts or roster moves in the days after the game, as it prepares for the season opener one week later. The deadline for finalized rosters is Tuesday.
With that in mind, there is a good chance the forward lines the Coyotes trot out will be the ones fans will see when the regular season opens on Oct. 9 in Los Angeles against the Kings, although Tippett said a couple players are nursing minor injuries and could miss the game. One of those may be Doan, who says he isn’t concerned about the lack of preseason prep time.
“I’ve had experiences in the past where I had great preseasons and things didn’t go the way I wanted,” he said. “I’ve had bad ones and everything seems to work great.
“It’s just (about) making sure you’re ready.”
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