There is a grand tradition in sports, overreacting to preseason games. It’s understandable, after months of buildup seeing actual hockey being played can serve to seemingly prove your biggest hopes or your biggest fears.
With that in mind, the Arizona Coyotes suffered a huge loss in their first preseason game. Despite at one point leading 2-1, the Coyotes would allow the Vegas Golden Knights to score five unanswered goals, including a Max Pacioretty hat trick, ultimately dooming the Coyotes efforts.
A 6-2 loss points to a problem from last season. Last season the Coyotes struggled to score, they didn’t have a single 20 goal scorer and they finished 28th in goals scored. The Coyotes made a few offseason acquisitions, but the expectation is that the younger players will continue to develop.
While not the ideal start, Sunday’s loss isn’t the end of the world. Preseason results are easy to read into, but they don’t always correlate with regular season results. Teams often start borderline players to see if they can make the leap, and veteran players may not be giving it their all yet.
When looking at yesterday’s game it’s important to remember that the Coyotes were without their key offensive generators like Clayton Keller and the newly acquired Phil Kessel. Also, only three of the Coyotes six defensemen played in the NHL last season. The team was also missing captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson who was recovering from a mysterious injury.
The team did manage some offense from key players. Jan Jenik, Christian Dvorak, Vinnie Hinostroza, and Barrett Hayton all notched points. Even Ilya Lyubushkin scored a goal, notable since he was goalless all last season.
These past two seasons Arizona has experienced some slow starts. Last season they were shut out three of their first four games, while the prior season they didn’t win until their twelfth game.
With those two starts, it’s easy to see why an early, bad loss may cause some anxiety. But one game isn’t enough to predict the season. Look no further than the regular season with the 0-10-1 start, Arizona won their first preseason game that year. And just like we shouldn’t expect Ilya Lybushkin to remain the Coyotes’ leading goal-scorer we shouldn’t base our expectations for the season off of just this game.