Coyotes lose home opener but aren’t panicked by lack of goal-scoring
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes are winless through two games on the 2019-20 season. It’s too small a sample size to project how many games they’ll win or how good their offense will be.
So it’s hard to know whether the Coyotes will bounce back from being the team that last year scored the third-fewest goals in the league. Though so far, Arizona has one goal on the young season.
The Coyotes (0-2-0) were shut out in their 1-0 loss in the home opener on Saturday against the Boston Bruins.
“It’s the old saying: You’ve got to be worried when the chances aren’t there,” Coyotes center Derek Stepan said. “But we created enough tonight to walk away with a couple tonight, and unfortunately we didn’t, so back to the drawing board and get ourselves ready for Thursday.”
By the end of the first period, Arizona led shots on goal 12-5 and shot attempts 21-13. They were out-chancing the Bruins, who are coming off a loss in the Stanley Cup Finals just a few months ago.
By the end of the game on Saturday, the Coyotes had outshot the Bruins 35-26. They also outshot Anaheim in the first game of the season.
“I’m not panicking. We’re a good hockey club,” head coach Rick Tocchet said. “These guys worked hard. These are winnable games. It’s a ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda,’ and I don’t play that game. But with a little bit of push here and there for some individuals, we could be 2-0.
“We need everybody to push a little bit harder, but I thought generally, the team played hard.”
Arizona had several odd-man rushes during Saturday’s game but didn’t finish on any of them. Several of those were created by the top line of Clayton Keller, Stepan and Phil Kessel, a trio that has shown excellent chemistry together through two games.
Keller and Kessel tied for the team lead Saturday in shots on goal with five each.
“We were moving great tonight,” Stepan said of that line. “Seemed to find each other tonight. Had a lot, a lot of looks. Like, a lot of looks. So that’s a positive. Keep working as a group of three and push each other and next game they’ll go in.”
At one point, that line had an odd-man rush and Stepan sent a pass to Kessel, who found Keller on the doorstep of Bruins goaltender Jaroslav Halak. Halak made the pad save on what was otherwise a good scoring chance.
“They’re really good off the rush,” Tocchet said. “They’re finding their groove, other than the fact that I wish they had got rewarded.”
One issue, however, was the power play.
Arizona is 0-for-3 on the season on the man advantage, two of those coming on Saturday — albeit their last power play was cut short by a penalty of their own.
Unlike 5-on-5 play, not only have the Coyotes failed to score on the power play but they’ve also failed to generate many scoring chances or set up plays.
“We haven’t got much set up on the zone time,” Kessel said of the power play. “I mean if you can’t set it up, you’re not going to have much success. So we’ve got to get it set up and work for each other, and hopefully get it going.”
The Coyotes also went 0-for-6 on Saturday in faceoffs on the power play.
Arizona brought in assistant coach Phil Housley this offseason, who was tasked in-part with repairing a Coyotes power play that scored just 16.28% of the time last year, good for 26th in the NHL.
“We’re trying to get the puck to Phil [Kessel],” Tocchet said. “The look was there to give it to him, and we fumbled around. We just need a couple guys, they’ve got to find it. It’s in the locker room and they’ve got to find themselves. Because the pressure’s on and they’ve got to be able to make that play.”
Goaltender Darcy Kuemper started for Arizona. He made 26 saves, including this one:
The lone Bruins goal on Saturday was scored by Brad Marchand. He was fed from the corner by his linemate Patrice Bergeron and got one past Kuemper on the short side.
“We’ve got guys moving to the right places. Good looks,” Stepan said. “Give their goaltender some credit, he made some big-time saves. Just keep pushing. I mean, I liked tonight. I think sometimes you get snake-bitten and tonight, their goaltender stood tall and we didn’t bury them.”
— The Coyotes haven’t defeated the Boston Bruins since Oct. 9, 2010.
— Coyotes defenseman Alex Goligoski played in his 800th NHL game.