Home > News > Sports > NHL > Arizona Coyotes: Dismal start may mean changes are coming

Arizona Coyotes: Dismal start may mean changes are coming

When a young team starts out the season at 2-14-3, the wheels start turning as to why. Is this team going nowhere fast?

When new head coach Rick Tocchet signed on to be behind the bench of the Arizona Coyotes little did he know what his team would look like after 19 games.

Sporting a dismal 2-14-3 record with the season almost a quarter of the way gone is not what he envisioned when he took the job.

Starting the season with 11 straight losses and not having a regulation-time win in 19 games will get you noticed for all the wrong reasons.

The Coyotes are young, is that an excuse?

The average age of the Coyotes is 25 years-six months-old. They are the fourth youngest team in the NHL, with the teams younger than them just a few months to their junior.

So, that could be why the team is failing so profusely, right?

Not really.

The other three teams younger than the Arizona club have a total of 53 points. The average would be about 18 points. The Coyotes have seven points. Doesn’t that strike home like losing a game in the last part of the third period?

Oh, the team has already done that? 

Right… forgot about that.

In that lies one of this team’s brutal flaws. They have given up 31 of their NHL leading 74 goals in the third period. That comes to 42% of the total goals the team has relinquished.

Which means they lose the lead… constantly. It gets old to hear a player comment after another loss about how they need to play a full 60 minutes of hockey to win.

The problem is at this point, it’s nothing but talk. The team has taken the lead in 14 of their 19 games, only to see their opponent take it away from them.

It could be that the young players are not talented enough to maintain a lead, or it could be this team needs to either gel really fast, or it may be blown up to improve.

Now could be the time to consider some trades

The team has a goldmine of talented young players to use as trade bait. Take Dylan Strome. He’s starting to tear it up in the AHL for the Coyotes’ affiliate Tucson Roadrunners. He has three goals, 12 assists in ten games.

He hasn’t exactly excelled at the NHL level, and the team has been more than patient in his development process. Maybe it’s time to see what they can get for him.

They also have Nick Merkley in Tucson and he has eight goals and five assists in ten games. They are both good young players, and might be traded for more veteran players who have more experience at closing out games when the team has the lead.

Then, there is Tobias Rieder who could also be dealt away. He has super speed and is an excellent penalty killer, so he has value for another team.

This is not hitting the panic button because all realists knew before the season started that losing veterans like Mike Smith, Shane Doan, Martin Hanzal, and Radim Vrbata would sting. They just didn’t know how much. That is becoming more and more apparent with each heart-breaking loss.

It’s not that his team has been blown out. They have only really lost a blow-out to the Boston Bruins 6-2. They seem to be in each and every game until whatever it is that is ailing them (I’m sure Tocchet will discover it and fix it soon, right?) hits them like a Dustin Byfuglien cross-check to the ribs.

Still, losing seven one-goal games is not acceptable.

Losses create a losing culture

What hasn’t seemed to occur just yet, is a losing culture which was on display a few seasons ago when the team fell to historic depths of failure finishing with a mere 58 points.

If one were to project their season-ending record at the pace they are currently following, it wouldn’t be pretty.

Try 30 points.

They are currently at a .184 winning percentage. That doesn’t bring fans out to the arena to watch a hockey game.

If this team wants to attract new fans, as the new owner Andrew Barroway stated, they had better start winning. Nothing brings fans through the turnstiles like winning. Conversely, nothing keeps them away from the arena like losing.

Speaking of arenas… there still is no mention of where this team will hang their skates next season. If they continue to lose as badly as they have thus far, how difficult will it be to convince investors to contribute to a new facility?

I wouldn’t, would you?

What the management and coaching staff of the Arizona Coyotes need to do is nip any “losing is natural”, or “we’re just not good enough” attitude from hitting the team.

It would spread like a wildfire and destroy the confidence of this team. Tocchet himself has to start wondering if his job is safe. It’s always the head coach’s fault when the wheels come off.

There are some bright points

Clayton Keller is one bright point on this team this season. He has shown without a doubt that he is here to stay in the NHL. With 11 goals. six assists in 19 games, he has been the spark which would ignite any other team.

Unfortunately, his talent may be wasted on team who has no apparent ability to win games. Keller has done what he does best, but he is one player and needs the other players to step up.

Brendan Perlini has also shown some excellent offensive talent, with his wicked shot and speed. There is a definite nucleus to this team which should start any time now showing its power and domination.

It just hasn’t happened yet.

Will it?

Tell us what you think of the poor start of this Arizona Coyotes team, and what they should do to right the ship. Let us know in the comments section below.

Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?

William Grigsby

I have been a hockey fan since I can remember. I grew up in Chicago, so I followed the Blackhawks.  When I moved to Phoenix, AZ  I became a Coyotes' fan. There's no other sport like NHL hockey!

  • Cameron Hicks

    Good article William.

    As big of a fans as we all are, we need to start calling the team out on this season. Love the team but I’m also tired of hearing how great we will be down the road. We need to start seeing a change in their play or some roster/staff changes.

    Hope we hang on to Strome though.

    • Cameron: It hurt to write anything critical of the team, but we are the laughing stock of the NHL! It’s time to fix the flooding dam and get some players/coaches who can help this team win. While I have been a fan since they arrived here in the valley, I am now an editor/writer at Realsport101.com and must report facts. The facts can be ugly at times, but they still need to be reported. I compare it to you still loving your child even after they do something obnoxious or wrong. I long for the season like we had in 2011/12. The excitement was in the air in the valley over our hockey team. It’s been too long since we were competitive and even longer since we had a white-out. Time to get off this merry-go-round and find a solution! I’m afraid that Tocchet’s job will be in jeopardy soon if the team doesn’t turn things around and be respectable. Forget getting a new arena, who would want to go to a game with a team this bad even if it’s a beautiful, new facility? We can’t give up on them, but something’s got to give! Thanks for reading, and pass on our link to your friends to enjoy.

  • tkrieger

    The John Chayka experiment may end up being one of the biggest boondoggles in NHL history…… I don’t know if they hired a “whiz kid” hoping to get more bang for the buck, but it is apparent for all the “analytics” he has, aside from acquiring Clayton Keller and Jakob Chychrun, he has no idea how to build an NHL team.

    There are other issues…… Most notably hanging onto the vastly overrated Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who repeatedly becomes a spectator late in close games (a big reason why the team blows leads- maybe the worst late-game “puck watcher” in the league right now… he has other bad flaws, too many to mention). This has been a problem with the back end players in general. (The back end players tend to try to block shots too close to the goaltender, often “redirecting” shots and screening their goalteder. The defensemen don’t track open players and engage them when they get the puck. Maybe the most “fundamental” flaw this team has right now.)

    And the seeming ineptitude to find even a decent goaltender. To give you an idea, the expansion Vegas Golden Knights have already gone through five goaltenders this season (due to injuries), yet the team keeps on winning. Even the Coyotes’ starter Antti Raanta, who provided improvement over what the team had through its historically bad start, is still only a good backup at best. In this recent home loss against the Winnipeg Jets, the game was even in most part, but the Coyotes’ starter once again got outplayed by the opposition’s backup netminder.

    The really scary part of the historic ineptitude this season is that most of the opponents the Coyotes have faced so far have played their backup goaltender.

    One of the qualities the Coyotes’ previous coach Dave Tippett had was being able to “clean it up” after a bad game. It appears that Rich Tocchet doesn’t have this ability. It also appears that his days are numbered. I think he’s part of the problem, but not totally the problem. Tocchet’s biggest problem is he expects his players to fit a system, instead of optimizing the system for his players.

    The most negative part of this whole ordeal is the “eye test” suggests little upside for the rest of the season….. Even 30 points might be too optimistic. This is in essence a mid-level AHL-caliber club playing in the NHL.

    If I were King, I’d experiment by shelving Ekman-Larsson for several games and shuffle defensemen from the Tucson Roadrunners….. (It couldn’t make it any worse.) I think aside from dumping Tocchet, this may be the closest thing to a “quick fix” for the team to start winning a game or two.

    • Good analysis. Have you ever considered writing? We can use additional writers at our site. It’s an unpaid position, but I can tell from what you wrote that you know hockey. Let me know if you’re interested and I can get you in touch with our recruiter, or you can use the link at the bottom of any of our articles. You only need to write an article a month, more if you have time. I’m the editor of the section, and I could use your talents if you are interested. Bill Grigsby RS NHL Editor

Arizona Coyotes: Dismal start may mean changes are coming

Send this to a friend