Anyone who watched the Arizona Coyotes play this season knew they were watching a bad team play bad hockey. It seems hard to believe given how close the Coyotes came to making the postseason over the past two years.
How could a team regress so much over such a short time period? To help provide an explanation, let's look at some advanced stats from the past three Coyotes' seasons.
The Raw Numbers
War On Ice provides us a terrific year by year comparison of various statistical categories. Here are the rudimentary advanced stats of the Arizona Coyotes over the past three years at 5v5:
A Little Bit of Luck
The very first statistical category - PDO (SPSv%) - tells a dramatic story about what happened to the Coyotes this year. The team's PDO went from 15th in the league in 2012-13, to 13th in 2013-14, to 29th in 2014-15.
This happened for two reasons: their shooting percentage (represented on the chart as OSh%) dropped by about 1.5 percentage points this season, while their save percentage (represented on the chart as OSv%) dropped by about fifteen percentage points from last season.
Put the two together, and the advanced stats illustrate what the eye test and the regular stats show: the Coyotes were scoring fewer goals and stopping fewer shots at 5v5 this season.
As a result, their goal differential was a -68 this year when it was more or less even the past two seasons, while their offensive production was only 20 goals ahead of the lockout shortened season. And since most of the game is played at 5v5, that meant the Coyotes were losing a lot more often than they did last year.
It's About Possession
When we look at the Coyotes' Corsi For Percentage (represented on the chart as CF%), the story is similar, though not as dramatic. The Coyotes went from 13th in the league in CF% in 2012-13 and 2013-14 to 22nd in the league in 2014-15.
So the Coyotes were taking a smaller percentage of the shot attempts at 5v5 compared to their opponents, which typically means they were chasing the puck more. The eye test seems to confirm this, as there were many instances of the Coyotes failing the clear the zone while their opponent took multiple attempts on net on a single shift.
So overall, the picture for the Coyotes was pretty grim last season. But there are reasons to hope for a rebound next season. PDO tends to level out at 100.0 over large sample sizes, and the Coyotes history suggests they should improve somewhat.
Mike Smith had a near career worst season in net, while the Coyotes had their worst team shooting percentage in recent memory (the next closest shooting percentage was a 6.5% clip in 2007-08).
While the Coyotes are probably a ways away from seriously competing for a playoff spot, there is a good chance that Coyotes fans will not have a repeat of last year's incredibly rough season.