Come the end of the 2015/16 season, the Arizona Coyotes out-placed the Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers, to end just two places – but nine points – away from the playoffs. As of right now, every single one of those teams stand above them.
With the additions of Luke Schenn, Ryan White, Alex Goligoski, Radim Vrbata and some new, highly touted rookies, the Arizona Coyotes were expected to push on and improve this season, but that is far from the case.
Brad Richardson breaking his leg early in the season didn’t help, and now that Max Domi has had surgery on his hand after a fight with Garnet Hathaway more cracks are starting to show, with the Coyotes needing their players to step-up, none more so than Anthony Duclair.
Greater expectations of Anthony Duclair
Last season, when Anthony Duclair was just 20-years-old, he burst onto the NHL scene with 20 goals and 44 points in 81 games, having been traded over from the New York Rangers in the season prior. Although he only had two game winning goals, he had eight multi-point games and found immense success on the powerplay – scoring 12 of his total points on the man-advantage.
The dynamic sniper has seen a monumental drop in production, sinking from 15 points by this time last season to a measly one goal and five points in 29 games of this campaign. This has been a huge contributor to the Arizona Coyotes having scored the third least goals in the NHL, at 72, with their 101 goals against – good for third highest count in the league – leaving them with a whopping minus-29 goal difference.
What’s going wrong with Duclair so far?
Anthony Duclair did spend a fleeting 18 games in a New York Rangers jersey, but last season was his first real NHL campaign, so there is a case to been seen here for a bit of second season syndrome – an unexplainable phenomenon in world sports. However, what seems more likely is that his lack of powerplay action or lack of linking with either Max Domi or Martin Hanzal has hit his numbers, hard.
According to the recordings of Left Wing Lock, in the last ten games, Anthony Duclair has only been lined with offseason signing Jamie McGinn and newly traded in Peter Holland, with the rest of the lines being shuffled around quite regularly – to help accommodate newly brought up rookie Brendan Perlini. Over these last ten games, Duclair has assisted twice - both primaries to McGinn.
Last season, Duclair found the majority of his success when on the ice at the same time as either Max Domi or Martin Hanzal. Both Hanzal and Domi claimed ten assists to Duclair’s goals last season, with the winger himself teeing up Hanzal six times (two primary, four secondary) and Domi thrice (three primary).
In terms of points this season, Anthony Duclair has three primary assists to McGinn, a secondary helper to Anthony DeAngelo – which Domi clocked the primary on – and his only goal of the campaign was set up by Domi. None of these points have come on the powerplay, which Duclair has only spent a total of 1:31 minutes on this season, per TSN.
How can Duclair and the Coyotes improve?
With one of their best players, if not their best player, Max Domi out of action for at least six weeks after having hand surgery, the Arizona Coyotes are going to struggle to pull themselves up from the depths of the league and put up a respectable record. But one of the best ways to do it is to reignite the players who are known scorers for the team.
This brings us back around to Anthony Duclair, who proved that he could be an integral member of Arizona’s offence if given the opportunities. Instead of separating the likes of Anthony Duclair, Martin Hanzal, Tobias Rieder and Radim Vrbata, the Coyotes should condense them into the top two lines.
Admittedly, they have brought in a lot more young talents, who need to be lined with these more experienced players, but to get Duclair scoring again – which would greatly boost the team – they need to pair him with better playmakers, not the likes of Holland and McGinn.
However, Duclair hasn’t been helping his case, having only 35 shots on goal this season, only the tenth most on the team – far less than you’d want from one of your more lethal goal scoring threats. What makes matters worse is that he’s only missed 11, totalling only 46 shots all season. If he wants to prove himself worthy of being with better line mates, he needs to get his name on the score sheet; the best way to do that is to shoot more. On the flip side, it could be more down to his line and lack of powerplay involvement that has caused such a decline in all things offence with Anthony Duclair.
Will the Arizona Coyotes make the playoffs?
Without a shadow of a doubt, the Arizona Coyotes will not be making the playoffs this season. Had this question been posed at the start of the season then maybe it could have been said that they did have a fair chance, but not anymore.
The Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers have surged up, along with the Winnipeg Jets being real contenders this season as well. The Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars currently reside outside of the wild card places, but they have far too much quality to not be considered contenders at this point in the season.
The injury to Max Domi is major; with him in the team, the Coyotes may have stood a chance of turning their season around, but without him it looks increasingly unlikely – unless Anthony Duclair can rediscover his form of last season, then they may have a shot at climbing some places.
What do you think to Anthony Duclair's season so far? Let us know in the comments section below.