Phoenix Coyotes Preseason Countdown: 4 Days

USA TODAY Sports

With just four days to go before preseason games begin, we look back at the Coyotes success in the skills competition last season.

In the abbreviated 2012-13 season, 13.47% of all games in the NHL went to the shootout. Of those 97 shootouts, the Coyotes participated in ten, ultimately winning four. The reason that's significant is that those six points left on the table would have given the Coyotes 57 points, good enough for 6th place in the Western Conference and a 1st round matchup with the Vancouver Canucks, who of course promptly proceeded to bow out in four games to the San Jose Sharks. So why did the Coyotes perform so poorly?

For starters, the Coyotes had a difficult time scoring against opposing goaltenders. The Desert Dogs shot just 27.6% in shootouts, good enough for 23rd in the NHL, and well below the league average of 35.82%. To make matters worse, only one team with a shooting percentage in the bottom half of the league participated in more shootouts than the Coyotes: the San Jose Sharks. Why did they make the playoffs when Phoenix didn't?

The Coyotes also had a hard time keeping pucks out of their own net; Mike Smith and Jason LaBarbera combined for a meager .581 save percentage, which placed Coyotes goaltending at 21st in the league. Again, only one other team with a shootout save percentage in the bottom half of the league played in more shootouts, and that was the Chicago Blackhawks, who won so often in regulation and overtime that their shootout shortcomings could be easily overlooked.

Put succinctly, the Coyotes combined below average shooting and below average goaltending with above average shootout opportunities. Skaters like Radim Vrbata, Mikkel Boedker, and possibly even Mike Ribeiro will need to improve their consistency to turn some of those lost points into wins.

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