Coyotes win 3 of 4 on big road trip, return home for pair of games
Arizona Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet gave an important reminder about the way the Coyotes’ season has gone so far through 11 games.
“Well sometimes, you don’t play well, and somehow you manage to win a game,” he said after a comeback win at New Jersey on Friday. “We’ve lost some games where we’ve played really well — really, really well — so hopefully it evens out. I don’t know. But we’re taking the win and we’re getting out of here. Put it that way.”
The second game of the season against Boston comes to mind. It’s not exaggeration to say the Coyotes thoroughly outplayed the Bruins in Arizona’s home opener earlier this month, and yet after that game, the Coyotes were 0-2-0.
The Coyotes (7-3-1) just completed a road trip on Monday night that had stops at the Rangers, Islanders, Devils and Sabres. Arizona’s opponent scored the first goal in three of those four games, yet the Coyotes went 3-1-0 on the trip to get six out of eight possible points.
They also had a 2-0 deficit in the first period in each of the last two games on the trip, and came back to win both of those games. That included a comeback win in the shootout at Buffalo, which entered that game 9-2-1 and unbeaten at home.
“All these trips are going to be important and they’re hard trips for any team, going out east or teams coming out west,” forward Conor Garland said. “So to get 3-1, that’s a big-time road trip.”
Now comes a homestand that will see the Canadiens and Avalanche roll through Glendale. Then it’s back on the road for a back-to-back at the Alberta teams. In the meantime, here are some things to catch up on as the Coyotes are back on familiar ground.
TOUGH SCHEDULE COMING UP
The first three weeks of November give the Coyotes a brutal portion of the schedule that has lots of back-and-forth travel and few days off.
From Nov. 2 to Nov. 18, the Coyotes play 10 games in 17 days with two different sets of back-to-back games and never more than a single day off between two games.
They host Colorado, then get one day off before a back-to-back in Alberta, then one day off before hosting Columbus, and then later get only one day off between a home game and playing in Washington, D.C. for the first game of a back-to-back in D.C. and St. Louis, which are separated by more than 800 miles and five states.
The Coyotes went 0-for-9 on the power play in their first four games this season. Then, they went a remarkable 6-for-13 (46%) the next three games. On the most recent road trip, the power play was 2-for-13 (15.4%).
Arizona struggled both offensively and on the power play specifically last season, so turning that around this year would be a big deal. The aforementioned ups-and-downs are small sample sizes, so consider this: On the season in 2019-20, the power play sits at 22.9%, good for 12th in the league.
The Coyotes will take that.
On the other side, Arizona’s penalty kill — which ranked tied for first in the NHL last year — is at just 72% since Niklas Hjalmarsson got hurt. It’s at 78.1% overall, which is only 21st in the league.
With the Canadiens and Avalanche coming to town, a handful of former Coyotes will return to their old building: Montreal’s Max Domi, Nick Cousins and Jordan Weal come through on Wednesday. Kevin Connauton, who was traded from Arizona to the Avalanche this offseason, is currently in the AHL.
Speaking of opposing players, both Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog — two of the three pieces to Colorado’s elite top line — are injured.
Quotes in this story were provided via Coyotes media relations with video of postgame interviews.