Never tell the Arizona Coyotes the odds.
The plucky Coyotes, widely considered to be a lottery team this season after finishing 29th overall in the NHL last year, continue to keep making noise. They’re 6-3-1 in their last 10 games and a very impressive 24-19-5 on the season.
Most importantly, however, is that their 53 points has them currently sitting in third place in the Pacific Division, which just so happens to be a playoff spot. They’re two points up on the Vancouver Canucks and four points ahead of the Anaheim Ducks.
While there are a number of key factors in this success (the always-impressive Oliver Ekman-Larsson, the emergence of talented youngsters Max Domi and Anthony Duclair, Shane Doan drinking Jaromir Jagr’s sweat to remain forever young), the impact of rookie goaltender Louis Domingue cannot be understated.
The 23 year-old Domingue has been rock-solid for the Coyotes this season, sporting a 9-4-2 record with a 2.08 goals against average and a .931 save percentage. Not only has he soared past veteran Anders Lindback as the team’s backup, but at this point you also have to wonder if he’s seized the starting job away from veteran netminder Mike Smith.
He had his best game of the season on January 23rd, stopping 26 of 28 shots as the Coyotes upset a powerful Los Angeles Kings team 3-2.
Domingue had a nice cup of coffee for the Coyotes last season, putting up a .911 save percentage spread across seven game appearances, but his success so far this year is truly out of the blue. The 6’3″ stopper was just a 5th round pick of the Coyotes back in 2010 and never particularly stood out at the AHL level. To his credit, however, he’s looked very impressive at the NHL level, combining his ideal frame with surprisingly quick reflexes and a very good ability to read the play in front of him.
The Coyotes still have a long road ahead of them to actually make the playoffs, especially with the Ducks finally snapping out of their early season funk and returning to their dangerous form, but if Domingue can keep this level of play going then Arizona should be able to very much stay alive in the race.