RECORDS: Coyotes 8-12-4 Hawks 16-8-3
PUCK DROP: 7:30pm
LOTTA STORIES IN THE DESERT: Five For Howling
SCORE-ADJUSTED TEAM CORSI %: Coyotes- 44.0 (30th) Hawks – 50.1 (15th)
SCORE-ADJUSTED xGF %: Coyotes – 39.5 (30th) Hawks – 47.4 (24th)
POWER PLAY %: Coyotes – 15.3 (21st) Hawks – 15.7 (19th)
PENALTY KILL %: Coyotes – 80.8 (21st) Hawks – 70.7 (dead ass last)
If the Hawks could schedule it themselves, and really given the pull they have with the league they may want to try it, they’d schedule the Yotes four or five times while they’re without Toews and Crawford. Because curveballs don’t hang much worse than this, and it’s boosted with the Coyotes having played last night in Ohio. Whatever is ailing the Hawks, this is how you medicate it.
As happens with young teams and crotchety coaches who may be regretting sticking around, when things go pear-shaped some youngster gets hung out to dry. Come on down, Anthony Duclair! DuClair was always a candidate for major regression this season, because you’d have to be on Arizona’s best peyote to think he could shoot 19% again as he did last year. Actually, you’d have to be on Arizona’s best peyote to be in Arizona at all, but that’s not why you called. Sure, a snap back to a shooting-percentage of less than 5% is more violent than expected, but everything else suggests DuClair is right in line with his teammates and what he was doing last year.
Adding to the Yotes woes is that other kids haven’t taken a step forward. Max Domi is providing just about what he did last year. So is Tobias Rieder. But you wouldn’t say either have made “the leap” yet. And quite simply there aren’t any veterans here to make up for it or to show the kids the way. Radim Vrbata will get you 20 goals whether you need them or not, and you don’t, and you won’t remember any of them. Martin Hanzal continues to play his slower Artem Anisimov game, and could be flogged at the deadline for more youth. Other than that? Shane Doan is now a corpse so he now smells the way his game has always looked. Jamie McGinn get anything done for ya? How about Brad Richardson? Didn’t think so.
It’s something of a shame, as there is a blue line that could be a thing, at least one day. There might not be a more beautiful skater in the league than Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who surely can’t ignore the large sucking sound that is his prime years being wasted on this basketcase of an organization. Connor Murphy and Michael Stone have shown flashes in the past of being productive NHL-ers. Alex Goligoski has been properly slotted on a second pairing, and he’s even made Luke Schenn useful. He’s having possibly his best season in the NHL.
The Coyotes are only propped up in the West by Colorado, and you wonder how terrible it would be if they weren’t getting stellar work from angry thespian Mike Smith and his SV% of .930. They haven’t maximized that because they really want to hand the job to Louis Domingue after his impressive last campaign, but he has stubbed his toe pretty hardily this season so far. Most of his struggles have come on the penalty kill though, as both special teams for the Yotes blow. The power play is a bit of a surprise as with Tippett and OEL they’ve usually had a productive power play.
Pivoting to the Hawks, there’s a bit of a lineup shuffle which should last a good period if the Hawks don’t score much. There’s no more Cerebral Assassins (tear), as Kruger will center Hartmania and Hossa. Vinny Hinny has been moved to the fourth line, and Rasmussen is centering for Motte and Wiener Anxiety. Q will try anything to get goals from somewhere other than the SuperPAK line, but this may just be shuffling deck chairs. Scott Darling will start, because he has to, because he’s the hero we need. Or something.
This is where the schedule gets really light. Aside from the two games with the Rangers, the Hawks will see the Yotes, the Islanders, and the Stars over the next two weeks, and they all blow. And the Rangers may be something of a fraud. Toews is whispered to return in there. The Coyotes have some speed with their kids, but it’s not organized much and really shouldn’t provide that much threat to the Hawks. Then again, we said that about the Devils and they should have walked out with two points. Get healthy here.