One of the NHL’s best teams this year plays in the desert. The Arizona Coyotes currently sit in second place in the Pacific Division with a total of 52 points through 44 games. A big reason for their success this year has been their play from the two goalies. The dynamic duo of Darcy Kuemper, and Antti Raanta. Darcy has played a total of 25 games this season with 15 wins 8 regulation losses, and two overtime losses. A save percentage of .929 and allowing an average of only 2.17 goals per game.
Kuemper was just named, for the first time in his career, an NHL All-Star, but unfortunately due to an injury last month against the Minnesota Wild, we won’t be seeing him play. Raanta, on the other hand, has played just as well. He’s played in 20 games this year as he’s stepped up recently with Kuempers injury. He has started in seven consecutive games and has recorded nine wins, eight losses, and two games lost in OT as well with a save percentage of .921 and allowing 2.66 goals per game.
This is a team that barely missed the playoffs last season with 86 points. Arizona continues to progressively get better after not making the postseason since the 2011-2012 season where they were eliminated in the conference championship to the Los Angeles Kings in 5 games.
This past offseason was one of the most productive that Arizona has seen. The Coyotes did not need much but decided to bolster up this playoff-caliber team by first bringing in center Carl Soderberg from the Colorado Avalanche to help bring some veteran experience and leadership to this team. He’s currently got 12 goals, and 13 assists through all 44 games in his Coyotes season debut. The second player who was brought in this offseason was right-winger Phil Kessel. Kessel, who has been in this league for a very long time, knows how to win the big games. He was targeted by coach Rick Tocchet, who has had much success within his years with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Kessel brings in very special talent and a veteran presence that the Coyotes haven’t seen since Shane Doan. Although he’s not had the best season number wise he’s getting the young guys involved with 15 assists, and 9 goals through 44 games. The very last acquisition that was picked up by the Coyotes came just one month ago. Yes, 35 games in the Coyotes made one of the most exciting trades this franchise has ever been apart of. We brought in 28-year-old LW Taylor Hall from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for our 2020 first-round pick, and conventional 2021 third-round pick.
The state of Arizona has never been more excited about hockey in its lifetime. A team that currently sits in second place in the Pacific adds another offensive weapon, and with the outstanding play from the goalies, this year fans have something to look forward. Now, do I think this team is Stanley Cup-bound? My answer would be no for the moment.
This team is the 2020 dark horse for sure. They have the talent but lack the chemistry. They have shown flashes of a championship-caliber team, but they have been way too inconsistent to tell. Arizona has also had a hard time staying healthy as it seems that a new player gets hurt each week. Only time will tell with this year’s team.
I can at promise that it’s going to be an exciting finish. I fully expect this team to make the postseason, and anything less would be a huge disappointment for these players and the fans. Plenty of hockey still needs to be played and anything can happen with 38 games left. I advise you to keep an eye on this team because it’s going to be a wild ride. This team will either flourish to the top or tank it’s way to the bottom.