The Arizona Coyotes have now played 28 games. They currently sit in sixth place in the Pacific, and 13th overall in the Conference. A big part of that has been the team's offensive production, which currently ranks 26th in the NHL, averaging just 2.29 goals per game. But when directly compared to other teams in the West, it becomes even more clear how daunting the problem the Coyotes face truly is.
Falling Behind Everyone Else
Arizona now sits 11 points behind San Jose for the last wild card spot in the Western Conference, and when you look at the offensive numbers from around the West, it's pretty easy to see why. The Winnipeg Jets are currently the only playoff team in the West with offensive numbers comparable to the Coyotes (24th in the league at 2.31). The next closest playoff team is the Nashville Predators (tied for 16th at 2.59). While that .30 difference doesn't seem like much, it equals roughly an extra goal every 3-4 games. Extrapolate that over the remaining 54 games in the season and the difference becomes 18 goals, or anywhere from 6-12 extra points in the standings. That's a lot to overcome.
But it's not just playoff teams that are doing better than Arizona. The bubble teams that Arizona would have to leapfrog to get into the postseason are also outperforming the Coyotes. The Minnesota Wild are 11th with 2.88 goals per game, the Dallas Stars sit right behind them at 2.86 goals per game, and the ever dangerous Los Angeles Kings are 18th at 2.54. Even assuming a team like Winnipeg or Calgary (currently 7th in GPG at 3.00) falls out of the playoff picture, it isn't hard to see two of these teams pulling their defensive issues together and getting in.
The fancy stats are marginally kinder to the Coyotes, but only just. Arizona is currently 23rd in the league in 5v5 Fenwick For percentage at 47.49%, and that number falls to 46.38% when the score of the game is close (up by one, tied, or trailing by one). The only playoff team in the West with a negative Fenwick Close percentage is Calgary at 46.77%.
Perhaps more troubling is Minnesota, currently not in the playoffs, has the best Fenwick Close percentage in the entire NHL at 56.50%. So even if the fancy stats catch up with Calgary (and no guarantee they will this year), there are plenty of other teams that could surge into the playoffs before Arizona does.
Perhaps the most jarring example of how offensively inadequate the Coyotes are comes when looking at individual points leaders in the NHL. Arizona is led in points by Keith Yandle, with 19 (3G, 16A). Those 19 points tie Yandle for 69th in the NHL overall, with the likes of Mike Santorelli, Ryan Strome, Brandon Saad, and Nick Bonino. If you don't recognize those names, it's because they are good players for their respective teams, but hardly stars.
Furthermore Mikkel Boedker, the team's leader in goals, sits tied for 43rd in the league, along with players Ryan Johansen, Tommy Wingels, Clarke MacArthur, and Joel Ward. Again, all of these players are good, but they complement their teams' stars. Getting 2nd/3rd line production from your team leaders is not a recipe for success.
Certainly all of the blame for the team's poor performance cannot be laid at the feet of the offense. It wasn't exactly an open secret going into this season that the Coyotes were going to struggle to score. But when looking at how far behind the team is compared to the teams they are chasing, it's abundantly clear that the team's offense is not putting them in a position to win many games, especially when the goaltending or the defense is off their game.