It’s officially our second edition of Coyotes Corner, but the Arizona Coyotes have yet to post anything in the win column. The road to coach André Tourigny’s first NHL win doesn’t get any easier, considering this week’s slate features games against the unbeaten Florida Panthers, defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning, perennial juggernaut Washington Capitals, and the also-unbeaten (to this point) Carolina Hurricanes.
The Coyotes were outscored 15-5 during their three-game home stand, the most recent of which was a 3-0 loss to the New York Islanders. NHL Rookie goalie Karel Vejmelka started two of the team’s three games last week, while presumed starter Carter Hutton continues to struggle between the pipes.
Central Division Standings (As of 10/25/2021)
|St. Louis Blues||4-0-0||8|
The Week That Was
Coyotes vs. Blues (Oct. 18, 7-4 Loss)
Arizona’s home opener didn’t exactly go according to plan, though there was plenty of buzz leading up to the team’s first game at Gila River Arena this season. Fans were amped up to see the Coyotes’ white Kachina jerseys at home for the first time in ages, but alas, that’s about where the excitement ended.
What Went Right
Honestly, in hind sight, the Coyotes hung in the first half of the game against a Blues team that, as of this writing, has yet to lose a game in the regular season. Clayton Keller kicked off the scoring with a first period power-play goal, and though St. Louis tied it just a few minutes later, Lawson Crouse again put Arizona up 2-1 after scoring 3:58 into the second period.
Christian Fischer and Travis Boyd also chipped in third period goals, and the Coyotes trimmed the Blues’ lead to 6-4 with just over 10 minutes left in the third, but that was as close as they would get.
What Went Wrong
The entire back-half of the second period. It’s hard to tell from the final score, but Arizona actually led the game twice, and Crouse’s goal at 3:58 of the second gave the Coyotes a 2-1 lead. The Blues, however, notched five goals over a span of 5:17 to close the period, grabbing a 6-2 lead that they would not relinquish. Basically, things went as bad as they possibly could have during that stretch.
Top Coyotes Performers
Shayne Gostisbehere, who recorded three assists.
The team is able to hang with good teams in the league, but simply cannot afford to take any shifts off, let alone half a period.
Coyotes vs. Oilers (Oct. 21, 5-1 Loss)
Another day, another unbeaten opponent for the rebuilding Coyotes. This one was against the high-flying Edmonton Oilers, who took a 3-0 lead into the second intermission. The Coyotes were outshot 31-28 and were beaten in the faceoff circle 31-24, and Vejmelka did not fare much better than Hutton one game earlier against the Blues.
What Went Right
Not much, but Dysin Mayo did finally notch his first career NHL goal, which at the time cut Edmonton’s lead to 3-1. The Oilers, however, tacked on two more to ultimately win 5-1.
What Went Wrong
Special teams. Arizona surrendered two power-play goals, as well as a shorthanded tally. Without question it was the difference in the game.
Top Coyotes Performer
Mayo, who notched Arizona’s only goal of the game in his NHL debut.
Games at the NHL level offer little room for error, and that’s amplified against a team like the Oilers. The Coyotes made far too many mistakes to come away with a win against a true Stanley Cup contender.
Coyotes vs. Islanders (Oct. 23, 3-0 Loss)
The Coyotes closed out their three-game homestand with a shutout loss, but what was particularly brutal was that the team performed relatively well. Vejmelka got his second-straight start, and did enough to keep Arizona in the game, but New York’s Brock Nelson scored a back-breaking power-play goal with 10 seconds left in the second period, giving the Islanders a 2-0 lead heading into the third.
What Went Right
Believe it or not, quite a bit, but the team had absolutely nothing to show for it. Arizona outshot New York 26-24, and cycled the puck effectively throughout the game. They hit posts and executed set plays very well, but were unable to solve Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin.
What Went Wrong
Puck luck. Arizona didn’t have much of it, whereas the Islanders capitalized on the opportunities when the puck seemingly bounced their way. It was a tough way to close out the first homestand of the season.
Top Coyotes Performer
Jay Beagle, who won 60 percent (9-for-15) of his faceoffs. Johan Larsson was not far behind, winning 56.3 percent of his draws (9-for-16)
Tourigny’s system looks good when the team can dial it in and perform consistently for a full 60 minutes. It didn’t feel like Arizona was out of this one until Anthony Beauvillier put the Islanders up 3-0 midway through the third period, and at some point this season an effort like this will be rewarded with a win.
Monday, Oct. 25 at Florida, 4 pm
Up next for the Coyotes? Oh, just ANOTHER unbeaten opponent. Arizona kicks off a six-game road trip against the first place Panthers, who have scored at least four goals in every game this season. Their wins are just as impressive, beating the likes of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Colorado Avalanche, and have not allowed more than two goals since a 5-4 overtime win on opening night. Since then, Florida has outscored opponents 17-5.
Thursday, Oct. 28 at Tampa Bay, 4 pm
The Lightning have gone to an extra frame in three of their first five games this season, notching overtime wins against the Detroit Red Wings and Washington Capitals, and a shootout loss to the Avalanche. To this point, Tampa is anchored by Steven Stamkos, who leads the team in points (9) and goals (4), while goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy has played all five games this season, compiling a 3.13 goals-against average (GAA) and .893 save percentage (SV%).
Friday, Oct. 29 at Washington, 4 pm
The Capitals have been consistent this season, and are led by — who else? — Alex Ovechkin’s 10 points and five goals. Goalies Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov have split time in net this season, though the former leads with a 2.05 GAA and .920 SV%.
Sunday, Oct. 31 at Carolina, 10 am
It’s a Halloween matinee against the Hurricanes, and what a frightening matchup against a team that, surprise surprise, has yet to lose a game this season. The Hurricanes are 4-0-0 (at the time of this publishing), and have won their last two games by a collective score of 9-2. Andrei Svechnikov leads the team with seven points and four goals, while goalie Frederik Andersen has compiled a 1.75 GAA and .944 SV% while playing in all of Carolina’s games to this point.
“We need to find another gear, we need to find solutions, be better, and win games, because we know with the way we play, if we find that next gear, we can win games. That’s what it’s all about.”
– Tourigny on the team falling short despite a solid effort in its 3-0 loss to the Islanders.
“Obviously, it’s a tough pill to swallow, but I thought we played pretty well today. I think we deserved a little better, but we’ve got to capitalize on those scoring chances.”
– Dmitrij Jaskin on the team’s 5-1 loss to the Oilers.
“It is a fast game. It happened so fast. That is where our team needs to take the next step. When we do let in a goal or two, it’s not just a full breakdown the next couple of shifts and they keep just pounding us. I think that is when we have to play simple hockey.”
– Clayton Keller on the Coyotes giving up five goals in 5:17 against the Blues.
On The Hockey Twittersphere
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Moral Victories Not Enough After Coyotes’ 3-0 Loss to Islanders
Coyotes’ Mayo Rewarded With Goal in First Career NHL Game
Coyotes Goaltending Situation an Embarrassment for the Organization
THW Goalie Report: Vejmelka, Fleury, Merzļikins, Shesterkin & More
Coyotes Corner: Vejmelka Shines, But Team Still Searching for First Win
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A die-hard hockey fan in the desert, and proud Iowa State alum. Detroit Red Wings and Arizona Coyotes contributor for The Hockey Writers.