What’s the Deal with the Arizona Coyotes?

USATSI_8956572_154158418_lowresOn Saturday night, the Arizona Coyotes polished off the Ottawa Senators by a final score of 4-3. This was notable for a number of reasons.

For starters, Mikkel Boedker had a hat trick. Again. This is the second time this season Boedker has notched a hat trick against the Senators. He had another on October 24 and has just three career hat tricks overall, so it’s safe to say he doesn’t mind playing against Ottawa.

Secondly, the Coyotes have won three games in a row and have polished off four of their last five with a victory. Arizona is 13-9-1, good enough for third in the Pacific Division. They aren’t exactly stellar, but they’re playing well, well above expectations.

After Saturday’s action, the Coyotes have scored 65 goals and have allowed 65 goals.

Max Domi has led the charge offensively, with 20 points in 23 games. He has eight goals and a dozen helpers. Martin Hanzal is second in scoring with 19 points in 21 games, while the aforementioned Boedker chimes in with 18 points in 23 games – including nine goals.

Domi has been near the top of the rookie scoring list for the entire season now, although Artemi Panarin has taken the lead in points among rookies with 23. And Dylan Larkin of the Detroit Red Wings has the goal-scoring lead for now with nine markers.

But the Coyotes have proven themselves to be better-rounded than many give them credit for, with enough tenacity to put together some wins.

There are weaknesses, though. The power play sits at a dismal 14.94 percent efficacy, putting them third from the basement. Only the Calgary Flames and Carolina Hurricanes have struggled more on the man-advantage.

They’ve also allowed five short-handed goals against, tying them with the Colorado Avalanche and New Jersey Devils in that less-than-esteemed category.

And Goalie Mike Smith has a 10-5-1 record with a .909 save percentage and a 2.81 goals against average. Those aren’t great numbers, obviously. Anders Lindback, too, hasn’t exactly turned heads with his play. He’s 3-4-0 with a 2.58 goals against average and a .911 save percentage. Neither goalie has really stolen a game yet.

The question is whether the Coyotes can consider themselves playoff-bound if they continue along this mediocre path. Yes, they’re exceeding expectations. But are they really fielding a winner in the 2015-2016 season or will this year go down as another sorry indication of what might’ve been?


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