After a record-breaking first season with the Coyotes, Clayton Keller is expected to lead the offense for the second year in a row.
Keller, who led the team in goals (23), assists (42) and points (65), will hope to improve those numbers and be more confident now that his first experience in the league is over.
The Coyotes could feel more pressure this season after a recent poll by TSN, comprised of 33 NHL players at the Player Media Tour, expected the team to be a surprise in the playoffs. Part of that reason includes the positive relationship with coach Rick Tocchet and the late-season surge that threatened other teams’ playoff hopes.
Tocchet’s earned players like Keller’s trust and has had nothing but praise for Keller’s preparation for his second season. Keller is said to be a frequent viewer when the other group is practicing during camp and discusses the game with Tocchet on and off the ice.
Teammates like Keller’s linemate, Derek Stepan, said he is ready for a second year because of his ability to adapt to the game. With other teams figuring out more about his playing style from last year, this will help him to avoid a slump.
One thing Keller can work on this season is his faceoff percentage. Though 50.8 percent is not bad at all, his team finished 28th in the league at 47.7 percent. Special teams are an issue that the team needs to address coming into the season, and Keller can help lead that.
He also needs the team to have a better start this season and not repeat last year’s mistakes. Luckily for Keller, he has decent numbers against the teams in their first five games.
Dallas Stars (10/4): 2 G, 1 A in 3 GP
Anaheim Ducks (10/6, 10/10): 2 G in 4 GP
Buffalo Sabres (10/13): 2 A in 2 GP
Minnesota Wild (10/16): 2 G 1 A in 2 GP
With the season starting in a little over a week, Keller and the Coyotes will finally get to answer the questions surrounding the team’s potential.
"I think last year everyone learned a lot about themselves. When we did play the right way, we had good results. When everyone is on the same page and we're playing with confidence, we're hard to beat." – Clayton Keller pic.twitter.com/zaPe1J6jjh— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) September 16, 2018
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