The Arizona Coyotes are looking for revenge against the Anaheim Ducks tonight, after being shut out in the home opener on Saturday. Despite out shooting the Ducks by more than double, 41 shots on goal versus 20, the Coyotes weren’t able to get a single goal by starting net-minder John Gibson. Looking at just their record 0-2-0 with no goals scored one might think that these are the same old Coyotes but nothing could be further from the truth.
For the longest time, under Dave Tippett, the Coyotes have been a defense first team but under Rick Tocchet’s system that has changed. In their first two games they have 71 shots on goal, which places them tied for 8th in the league for shots on goal through a team’s first two games. (Calculated based on data from Hockey-Reference.com.) This doesn’t mean that the team is defensively challenged either. They currently are 5th in the league for the lowest shots against, and the four teams ahead of the Coyotes have only played one game each.
#NHL Shots For/Game vs Shots Against/Game Differential:— Goals Against (@GA_per60) October 10, 2018
Highest Outshooting Teams-#FlaPanthers #TakeWarning #OurPack
Highest Outshot Teams-#GoKingsGo#mnwild#GoBolts
But it’s still early! pic.twitter.com/xOmMiuiQq8
Granted all of this is over an exceedingly small sample size, but if the team can keep up this level of play they will be in a great spot by the end of the season. General Manager John Chayka said as much this morning to ArizonaSports.com, “Look, we’ve out-chanced teams 2-1, 3-1 in the first two games here. We’ve played well, I like our structure, we’ve played tight, we haven’t given up much. We’ve actually been able to create quite a bit. We’ve got a few breakaways, some hit posts, some missed empty nets. Those things happen throughout a season, so we keep playing this way through 82 games, we’ll be in good shape.”
Despite a slew of key players being injured, the Ducks are off to one of the best starts in franchise history winning all three of their games. Most of this can be credited to the stellar play of Gibson. In a post game interview Head Coach Randy Carlyle said, “He’s been our MVP for the three games. You don’t have a starting point in the NHL if you don’t have goaltending. He’s been giving us A-class goaltending here for the first three games.”
The younger players that have stepped up to fill in for the injured players have helped the Ducks’ success as well. Rookie Max Comtois is tied for second on the team in scoring with Rickard Rakell and Adam Henrique. Coyotes fans will not-so-fondly remember that name as the lone goal scorer in last weekend’s home opener.
Players to watch
Arizona: Brendan Perlini - As noted in the subscription site The Athletic, Perlini hasn’t had the best start to his season with a defensive lapse in Dallas and unable to get enough shots off in front of the Anaheim net. Considered one of the team’s offensive weapons he’ll be looking to turn things around tonight.
Anaheim: John Gibson - He’s a got a save percentage of 0.958 and a goals against average of 1.30 and is 4th in the league for having faced the most shots.
Arizona: Jakob Chychrun (Knee), Conor Garland (Upper Body), Nicholas Merkley (Knee), Josh Archibald (Lower Body), Alex Galchenyuk (Groin), and Christian Dvorak (Back)
Anaheim: Patrick Eaves (Questionable - Shoulder), Ondrej Kase (Concussion), Corey Perry (Knee), Korbinian Holzer (Wrist), and Ryan Kesler (Hip)