With the season approaching, let’s look back at how the Arizona Coyotes performed on the power play and penalty kill.
Power needed for the play
All last season Arizona struggled to generate offense, with the power play being no exception to this. The Coyotes ranked 26th on the power play with a 16.9 scoring percentage and 31st at home with 12.3 percent. With an offense hungry for redemption this season, the team is going to rely on their star power to step up their game.
Luckily for the Coyotes, new addition Alex Galchenyuk excelled on the power play and can add just the right boost the unit needs this year. Over the past four seasons with Montreal, Galchenyuk ranked first in power play points (67) and 27.8 percent of his goals come from power plays.
Last year’s unit was led by rookie sensation Clayton Keller and his 20 power play points. His six goals were matched only by top defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Keller will receive more help offensively this season and can only improve in his second year.
Ekman-Larsson still proves to be reliable on both sides of the puck and provides just as much help on the power play as he does on the penalty kill. He led defensemen with 42 points (14 G, 28 A) and ranked third in power play points overall. Having a strong leadership role can also help with rallying his team to take more advantage of the opportunities being given to them.
Center Derek Stepan proved to be a great addition last year with 18 power play points, second on the team. Stepan also came with more experience than his younger teammates and used that to inspire them during the struggles of the power play last season.
Hopefully, the power play unit can learn from last year’s struggles and improve their scoring with help from their top players. Having Galchenyuk certainly helps them, along with Keller having a full season under his belt.
The penalties aren’t killing them
Despite having an off year on the power play, Arizona improved greatly on the penalty kill this season. The 19th-ranked unit managed to kill 79.5 percent of their penalties, compared to 77.3 percent from the 2016-17 season.
Led by Brad Richardson with 158 minutes on the ice, the Coyotes only spent 358:31 minutes on the penalty kill, the fourth-lowest in the league.
Good discipline helped their numbers out this year as they spent an average of 7:49 minutes per game in the box, lower than 23 other teams. They also tied for seventh in fewest penalties with 276 and were shorthanded 225 times, fifth best in the league.
Their 46 power play goals against last year ranked them eleventh-best in the league, but there is still room for improvement there. Goaltender Antti Raanta posted 31 saves and a .912 save percentage on the penalty kill. With a smoother start to this season than last season, Raanta can easily improve his stats when shorthanded.
Another area that Arizona needs to look at is their play in the second period. A majority of their penalties occurred in the second period (139:00 minutes), followed by the third (126:24) and first (89:13). Recognizing this, the team needs to do their best to not let opponents exploit this weakness during this season.
They also need to take advantage of home ice this year when on the penalty kill. The team ranked 26th at home with 77.9 percent penalty kill percentage. Their five-game homestand from October 25 to November 5 is their first major test of how well they can play at home.
Despite struggling at home, their road percentage was ninth best in the league (81.3 percent). Continuing this trend, along with improving at home, can potentially produce one of the league’s top penalty killing units.