Goaltending & Defensive Struggles Plague Coyotes Early

In this season’s first-ever new, revamped edition of Coyotes Corner, the Arizona Coyotes kicked off their 2022-23 campaign with a six-game east coast road trip. With a new look roster, the Coyotes kicked off year two of their current rebuild. In the team’s first week of the regular season, the club hit the road for matchups with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, and Ottawa Senators.

Arizona Coyotes Corner Jakob Chychrun & Clayton Keller
Jakob Chychrun & Clayton Keller (The Hockey Writers)

The first five games of the season for the Coyotes have been anything but eye-catching. The team currently holds a record of 1-4-0 and has been plagued with early defensive and goaltending struggles. They have been outscored 24-11, and have allowed six goals in each of the team’s four losses.

Central Division Standings (As of 10/25/2022)

TeamRecordPoints
Dallas Stars4-1-19
Colorado Avalanche3-2-17
St. Louis Blues3-1-06
Chicago Blackhawks3-2-06
Winnipeg Jets3-3-06
Nashville Predators2-4-15
Minnesota Wild1-3-13
Arizona Coyotes1-4-02

The Week That Was

Coyotes @ Pittsburgh (Oct. 13, 6-2 Loss)

The Coyotes kicked off their 2022-23 season on the road against Sidney Crosby and the Penguins. Three goals in the first six minutes from Crosby, Jason Zucker, and Jake Guentzel killed any momentum the team had. Nick Ritchie scored the first two goals of the season for the Coyotes, both on the power play to help cut the deficit to two, but late goals from Bryan Rust and Kasperi Kapanen helped seal the deal and sink Arizona in their season opener. Karel Vejmelka made 47 saves on 53 shots in the loss. Clayton Keller and Conor Timmins both made their season debuts after sustaining season-ending injuries last season. Penguins goalie Tristian Jarry made 26 saves on 28 shots.

Conor Timmins Arizona Coyotes
Conor Timmins, Arizona Coyotes (Photo by Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images)

Top Coyotes Performer

Ritchie, who scored the two goals for the Coyotes, his first two of the season.

Key Takeaway

The Coyotes’ power play looked stellar, scoring twice on five opportunities, while the defense looked poor, allowing two power-play goals of their own while allowing 53 shots to just 28 of their own. Nick Schmaltz went down with an injury and will be sidelined for the next 6-8 weeks.

Related: Arizona Coyotes 2022-23 Season Preview

Coyotes @ Boston (Oct. 15, 6-3 Loss)

The Coyotes traveled to Boston on Saturday, looking to shake off their season-opening loss, while also hoping to pick up their first win in Boston since 2009 and end their current 18-game losing streak to the Bruins. Coyotes prized prospect Dylan Guenther made his NHL debut and registered his first career point. Unfortunately for Arizona, the team found themselves blanked in the first period for the second straight game, falling behind 2-0 on goals from Pavel Zacha and Charlie Coyle. Keller registered his first goal of the year in the second period to get the Coyotes on the scoreboard. Defensemen Josh Brown and Shayne Gostisbehere added goals in the third period to help tie things up before the Bruins added three goals over the final 15 minutes to pull away and spoil a potential comeback. Vejmelka made 37 saves on 42 shots in the loss.

Dylan Guenther Arizona Coyotes
Dylan Guenther, Arizona Coyotes (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

Top Coyotes Performer

Newest Coyotes forward Nick Bjugstad picked up an assist and delivered six hits while winning 50 percent of his faceoff draws.

Key Takeaway

The Coyotes shot themselves in the foot, allowing the Bruins two quick goals after coming back down from two early in the third period. Defensive struggles late plagued the team.

Coyotes @ Toronto (Oct. 17, 4-2 Win)

After two bad losses, the Coyotes set their focus on Toronto, hoping to pick up their first win of the year. The team got off on the right foot for the first time this season, with Ritchie and Christian Fischer giving the team a 2-0 lead heading into the third period. Toronto buckled down in the final frame, tying things up on goals from William Nylander and Mitch Marner. Gostisbehere proved to be the hero late with a little under three minutes left before a Toronto goal seemed to tie things up with less than a minute remaining. The goal was ultimately overturned due to a hand pass, and Lawson Crouse added an empty netter to give Arizona the win. With the win, the Coyotes extended their streak of earning at least a point in Toronto alive, which dates back to 2002. Vejmelka picked up his first win of the season, stopping 26 of 28 shots.

Top Coyotes Performer

Ritchie added a goal and an assist against his former team, and Gostisbehere recorded at least a point for the third straight game.

Key Takeaway

The Coyotes got off to a hot start and didn’t let off the gas even after squandering a two-goal lead in the third period.

Coyotes @ Montreal (Oct. 20, 6-2 Loss)

Recently claimed goaltender Connor Ingram made his first start of the season for the Coyotes as they traveled to Montreal on Thursday. Travis Boyd and J.J. Moser added goals for the team, but it was ultimately the young guns show for the Canadiens. Juraj Slafkovsky scored his first career NHL goal, while Nick Suzuki pulled off a jaw-dropping penalty shot goal in a highlight-filled night for Montreal. Ingram made 24 saves on 29 shots in his Coyotes debut and for the third consecutive time this year, Arizona allowed six goals in a loss.

Janis Jerome Moser Arizona Coyotes
Janis Jerome Moser, Arizona Coyotes (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Top Coyotes Performer

Crouse and Boyd combined for one goal and three assists.

Key Takeaway

Puck management killed any momentum the Coyotes could muster, turning over the puck 22 times.

Coyotes @ Ottawa (Oct. 22, 6-2 Loss)

Defensive and goalie struggles proved no different yet again on Saturday. Brady Tkachuk scored twice, Shane Pinto, Tyler Motte, Mark Kastelic, and Josh Norris all added goals and the Senators coasted to a dominant win. Anton Forsberg made 20 saves in the win. The Coyotes picked up goals from Keller and Guenther, who recorded his first career NHL goal, and second career point in the loss. Vejmelka made 26 saves on 32 shots.

Karel Vejmelka Arizona Coyotes
Karel Vejmelka, Arizona Coyotes (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Top Coyotes Performer

Guenther scored his first career goal.

Key Takeaway

The Coyotes’ struggles to start off fast have shown, getting shutout in the first period for the fourth time this season.

Looking Ahead

The Coyotes’ current six-game road trip ends tonight against Johnny Gaudreau and the Columbus Blue Jackets. Patrik Laine is expected to return from injury tonight against the Coyotes. The team will then head home on Friday for their home opener at their new temporary home, Mullett Arena against the Winnipeg Jets. This will be the first of four home games for Arizona before embarking on a season-long 14-game road trip.

Quotables

“Crazy third. Fortunately we got a call.”

— Coyotes defensemen Gostisbehere on a late third-period call in the Coyotes’ 4-2 win.

“I thought we played solid in the first period,” Arizona coach Andre Tourigny said. “We had a lot of pressure and urgency. We didn’t score but I don’t think the period was that bad. We played a really good second period obviously and I think in the third they got opportunistic and that was the game.”

— Coyotes head coach Andre Tourigny on the team’s performance in a 6-2 loss against Ottawa.


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