What Went Wrong: Arizona Coyotes

The Arizona Coyotes can look back on 2018-2019 as another disappointment in a long, long string of them. They finished fourth in the Pacific Division and ninth in the Western Conference with a 39-35-8 record.

It’s been an interesting run for analytics fan and general manager John Chayka, who’s taken a bold approach to the Coyotes but hasn’t seen much by way of results. That said, he’s proven to be an astute general manager – trading up at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft to secure defenceman Victor Soderstrom at the sought-after 11th spot.

For Arizona, 2018-2019 proved that the immediate concern is offence. The dogs are a little like the Ducks that way, although the situation in the desert is not quite as bad as it is in California. That said, the Coyotes are well within the bottom sixth of the NHL with just 209 goals scored and that’s nothing to be proud of.

Not a single player on the Coyotes hit 20 goals in 2018-2019. Clayton Keller led the way in points with a measly 47 in 82 games. He had just 14 goals, which are Ryan Getzlaf numbers and Ryan Getzlaf numbers aren’t going to cut it – especially when Ryan Getzlaf missed time but Keller skated all 82 games. And that is, by the way, a dip in production for the Chesterfield native. He had 23 goals the previous season, his rookie year.

Alex Galchenyuk and Brad Richardson (!) scored the most goals on the Coyotes with 19 apiece. That’s right, the sly 33-year-old vet led the way in goal-scoring for 2018-2019. What makes this even weirder is that Galchenyuk scored nine of his 19 on the power play, while Richardson scored exactly zero power play goals and actually had three short-handed tallies. And there was that four-goal game against the Canucks…

So yes, Brad Richardson was Arizona’s most effective player in even-strength play.

The Coyotes are one of the youngest teams in the NHL and that’s going to be a good thing once these players develop and start finding twine on a regular basis.

There were bright spots. Vinnie Hinostroza adapted well, scoring a career-high 16 goals after a few years waffling around in Chicago and Rockford. And Scituate’s Conor Garland gave the squad one of its most indelible images all season when he scored a goal off his face against the Edmonton Oilers.

The good news is that Arizona offset their undermined offence by shutting the door. They allowed just 220 goals against, tying them with eventual Cup winners the St. Louis Blues as the sixth stingiest team in the NHL.

Goalie Darcy Kuemper saw action in 55 games and picked up 27 wins with a 2.33 goals against average and a .925 save percentage. He had five shutouts and was, at one point, thought to be the Coyotes’ ticket to the post-season.

So what went wrong? Goal-scoring – or the lack thereof. It is going to be a familiar narrative this summer as we take a look around the league and plenty of teams will boast similar concerns, like the aforementioned Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings and those troublesome, maddening Dallas Stars.

But for Chayka and the Coyotes, scoring really is one of those issues that has to be addressed. They can wait another couple seasons for those bourgeoning youths to get acclimatized or they can slot in some immediate answers to attain a little taste of success – a morsel, if you will. Based on reports that Chayka’s looking long and hard at Matt Duchene, it looks like the latter plan may come to fruition.

(Lead photo credit: Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

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