The final two weeks of the 2015-16 NHL season have arrived. The Arizona Coyotes only have seven games left and their chances of making the postseason are slim. Despite falling from a playoff spot in the second half and facing a fourth consecutive season without postseason hockey, the Coyotes have made significant improvements. There is still a lot to look forward to and questions to answer as Arizona closes out this campaign.
What will Arizona’s rookies provide for the finale of their first NHL season? This season has been highlighted by a number of impressive young talents for the Coyotes. There have been the rookies that were hyped up before the season, like Max Domi and Anthony Duclair, and those that came in somewhat under the radar, such as Jordan Martinook and Louis Domingue.
Domi and Duclair both rank in Arizona’s top five scorers and have provided plenty of sensational moments for Coyotes fans this year. Meanwhile, Martinook has been a good source for secondary scoring for the Coyotes and has found a role in Arizona’s penalty kill. The young Coyotes have proven themselves in their first season in the desert and Arizona hopes for a repeat of this next season when the next wave of prospects hit the ice, including Christian Dvorak and Dylan Strome.
Smith vs. Domingue
As for Domingue, he has been one of the biggest stories for the Coyotes this season. After Mike Smith went down with an injury, the rookie goaltender got his opportunity to play in the pros and ended up taking over the starting role. It was not an easy task for Domingue to go from third on the goalie depth chart to being the starter, but the young goaltender has held up well. Now with Smith back in the lineup, both goalies will have their chance to make a case for being the starter for next season. Since Smith returned on March 12, he is 4-1-0 with a .965 save percentage and a 1.20 GAA. In that same time, Domingue has also been stellar in two starts with a .973 save percentage and a 1.01 GAA.
With a team filled with so much young talent like the Coyotes, who would have guessed that the 39-year-old Shane Doan would be leading the team in goals this late in the season? The last active NHL player from the original Winnipeg Jets, Doan has enjoyed a renaissance season that has seen him rewrite the Jets/Coyotes franchise record books, surpassing Dale Hawerchuk for goals, points and power-play goals.
Doan notched his 26th goal of the season Saturday night against the Philadelphia Flyers, a mark he has achieved eight times in his 20-year NHL career and the first time since scoring 31 goals in 2008-09. The captain has had an incredible run in the final year of his current contract and has shown that he can still play at a high level among his younger teammates.
Charles Woodall-Pike is a journalist who writes about the Arizona Coyotes for The Hockey Writers.