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Coyotes’ strong record helped by much-improved power play

Phil Kessel #81 of the Arizona Coyotes celebrates with Clayton Keller #9, Oliver Ekman-Larsson #23 and Christian Dvorak #18 after scoring a power play goal against the Nashville Predators during the third period of the NHL game at Gila River Arena on October 17, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Coyotes’ power play needed fixing.

Combining the stats of the previous three seasons (2016-17 to 2018-19), the Coyotes’ power play was scoring only 16.4% of the time, the worst mark in the NHL in that span. This year, however, that is not the case.

There are a few factors likely contributing to that: Personnel changes (Phil Kessel, Carl Soderberg), players getting healthy (Nick Schmaltz, Christian Dvorak) and a coaching change (Phil Housley).

Whatever the reason(s), the numbers are staggering. Here’s a few facts worth noting about Arizona’s power play:

RECENT SUCCESS

This year as a whole, the Coyotes’ power play ranks 13th in the NHL at 20.1% — but that doesn’t do justice how it’s performed most recently.

Ever since the Coyotes went 2-for-4 on the man advantage in a game on Nov. 18 against the Kings, the power play has clicked at a 27.9% rate — third-best in the NHL in that span behind only Toronto and Edmonton.

The power play has failed to score in back-to-back games only one time in that span. It had done so nine times this year before that.

POWER PLAY LEADERS

Kessel’s 11 power play points are tied with Clayton Keller for first on the Coyotes, and his six goals are the most. A similar statistic is true when narrowed down to the aforementioned recent uptick in power play production; Kessel and Keller each have seven power play points since Nov. 18, which are the team lead. Soderberg is next with four.

With 24 shots on the power play and six goals, Kessel has a 25.00% shooting percentage on the man advantage, the 10th-highest such number in the NHL among players who have taken at least 20 shots on the power play.

Kessel also leads the Coyotes by a wide margin in power play ice time per game, at 3:24. Keller is second with 2:56.

A NEW ADDITION

Taylor Hall is tied for 25th in the NHL this year with 12 power play points (two goals, 10 assists). That’s despite having just been traded from a New Jersey Devils team that has the third-worst power play in the league.

His arrival could draw attention away from other Coyotes on the ice and perhaps help boost the Coyotes’ man advantage even more.

All of this is especially timely, given that Arizona’s other special teams group, the penalty kill, has slid from being third in the NHL last year (84.9%) to 14th this year (81.5%).


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