After a year filled with offensive disappointment, the Coyotes offense has to work through some glaring issues this season to improve on their 70 points from last season.
One of the major concerns for the Coyotes is the amount of goals being scored, with Arizona ranking 30th in that area at 206 goals a year ago. However, there is hope in this area with rookie sensation Clayton Keller playing in his second season and hopefully improving from his team-leading 23 goals.
New additions Alex Galchenyuk and Michael Grabner are expected to help with the sluggish offensive totals, as Galchenyuk’s 51 points last season would have placed him third in scoring for the Coyotes. Grabner was a smart choice to help with the goal scoring issue as well, with 27 of his 36 points last season being goals. His experience and speed will be an asset to the young core in Arizona.
Getting on the Board First
Additionally, the Coyotes need to improve on striking first, with their record being 6-25-5 when opponents score first. When they do get on the board first they tend to fare better, with their record being 23-16-7. Their best period for scoring is in the third with 68 of their goals coming from there, but they’re ranked higher (19th) in the league for their 67 goals in the first period.
Holding the lead
When they do outscore their opponent, they tend to have issues holding that lead with six of their losses each being when they lead in the first (tenth-most) and second (the most) periods. Their 0-10-1 start to last season was filled with several lost leads that showed an offense that had trouble regrouping in these situations. In the second half of the season, the offense showed growth and helped the team go 17-9-3 in the final 29 games. The second half is something that the team needs to build off of when they start this upcoming season.
Potential Breakout Candidates
The offense could potentially see breakthroughs from players like Dylan Strome and Lawson Crouse, who were sent down to the Tucson Roadrunners (American Hockey League) last season.
Strome’s had high expectations for him since he was drafted third overall in 2015, and played a career-high 21 NHL games last season. In those games, Strome tallied nine points (4 G, 5 A) and saw 18.2 shifts per game. With Tucson, the center lit up their offense with 53 points (22 G, 31 A) in only 50 games. After being sent back-and-forth from both teams, offensive production started clicking for Strome around the last stretch of the season when he got his second career goal on March 21 against Buffalo. Since that game, Strome scored seven points to end his season and showed more signs of hope that he can be a full-time contributor to the offense.
Crouse played most of his second NHL season with the Roadrunners after registering one point in his 11 games with the Coyotes. With the Roadrunners, the left winger had 32 points (15 G, 17 A) and 8 points in their playoff run (2 G, 6 A). His more physical style of play allows him to balance out the unit full of smaller, skilled forwards. Creating space for the puck to go through is something that he can contribute to the offense that will make them better this year.
With new players and growth amongst the current ones, the Coyotes can improve from where they were offensively last season.
Clayton Keller-Derek Stepan-Richard Panik
Brendan Perlini-Alex Galchenyuk-Vinnie Hinostroza
Dylan Strome-Christian Dvorak-Christian Fischer
Lawson Crouse-Brad Richardson-Michael Grabner
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