ARIZONA COYOTES

Shane Doan raves about Coyotes’ Christian Dvorak: ‘That kid is special’

Oct 24, 2019, 10:54 AM
Shane Doan #19 of the Arizona Coyotes skates alongside Christian Dvorak #18 during the first period...
Shane Doan #19 of the Arizona Coyotes skates alongside Christian Dvorak #18 during the first period of the NHL game against the Minnesota Wild at Gila River Arena on April 8, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

One of the notable storylines of the Coyotes’ 2019-20 season so far — albeit eight games in — has been the emergence of a formidable second line.

That trio, founded on the pairing of Christian Dvorak and Nick Schmaltz and completed by the addition of one of either Conor Garland or Barrett Hayton, has been good. When Dvorak and Schmaltz are on the ice together, per NaturalStatTrick, they’re plus-4 with eight high-danger scoring chances and a 63.6% faceoff win rate in nearly 64 minutes played this year.

Dvorak is tied with Garland for the team lead in goals with four, while Schmaltz has a team-leading nine points on three goals and six assists. Schmaltz has two multi-point games already this year and Dvorak scored twice in last week’s win against Winnipeg before he scored the game-winning overtime goal on Tuesday at the Rangers.

All of this is good context to understand why former Coyotes captain Shane Doan spoke highly of Dvorak when he joined Burns & Gambo on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

“I got teased, because I am the biggest fan of him,” Doan said on Wednesday. “I think that kid is special.”

Doan, who was still on the Coyotes for Dvorak’s rookie season, compared the 23-year-old to Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, a four-time Selke winner and the owner of the second-highest faceoff win percentage the last five seasons among active players. As of Thursday morning, Dvorak led the NHL in faceoff win percentage at 68.3%.

“He’s a guy that just does everything right, is never going to be the guy that’s going to be ‘Rah, rah, rah’ and emotional and over-the-top,” Doan said. “But just so unbelievably consistent and professional and so talented and so much fun to play with.”

After the team’s win against Nashville last week, head coach Rick Tocchet praised Dvorak’s play this season.

“[Schmaltz] and Dvo are really, the last three or four games, really got their game going,” Tocchet said. “I can tell, a lot of chemistry. They’re defending well, too. They’re not just a one-way line. I think Dvo’s been great for us. … Like he’s been really, really good.”

The year before his rookie year with the Coyotes, Dvorak played with the OHL’s London Knights on a team that featured a bunch of now-NHL players, like Toronto’s Mitch Marner, Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk, Montreal’s Victor Mete and St. Louis’ Robert Thomas. The year before that, Dvorak’s Knights had eventual Coyotes forward Max Domi.

“You talk to anyone that played with him in junior, and to a man they will rave about the character of the kid,” Doan said. “They played on a really good junior team there, the London Knights. And it was Mitch Marner and Matthew Tkachuk and Max was with them early on. It was just a great team. And every single one of those guys just rave about how Dvo was their best player, Dvo’s their leader, Dvo was the guy that really kind of made everything work.”

Dvorak scored 15 goals in each of his first two NHL seasons before missing almost the entirety of last year with injuries. This year, he’s off to a great start. The Coyotes hope it stays that way.

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