Prior to Saturday’s game against the Washington Capitals, the Arizona Coyotes were 3rd among teams in power play (currently 5th) and 10th in penalty kill (currently 13th). Those are some pretty impressive special team stats for a team that is projected to be at the bottom of the standings and a contender for the first overall draft pick.
The puck movement during the powerplay has been immaculate and the players have been moving the puck well along the boards. Another reason for the power play success can be attributed to the big body of Nick Ritchie. His body enables him to gain possession of the puck and win puck battles. Ritchie has recorded 5 of his 8 points on the powerplay which includes 4 powerplay goals. Ritchie also currently has a 57.1% powerplay shooting percentage and a 6.11 powerplay goals expected per 60 minutes.
Mattias Maccelli and Dylan Guenther have been no slouch on the powerplay too as they have both secured most of their points on the powerplay. Maccelli has 5 of 7 assists on the powerplay while Guenther has obtained 4 of his 6 points on the powerplay. Guenthner currently has an impressive 5.22 powerplay goals expected per 60 minutes.
Shayne Gostisbehere, or Ghost, also deserves big kudos as he’s been one of the main defensemen on the powerplay along with J.J. Moser. Additionally, Ghost is tied with Maccelli and Ritchie for the team lead in powerplay points with 5. He has two goals on the powerplay and leads the team in primary powerplay assists with 3.
In terms of the penalty kill, Moser, Josh Brown, and Troy Stecher have been leading the defense in short-handed time on ice. These three defensemen have averaged over 3 minutes of penalty kill per game and spend and are on the ice for nearly 50% of the team’s shorthanded time per game.
Meanwhile, Lawson Crouse and Nick Bjugstad have been the two forwards carrying the penalty kill load for the forwards. The greatest advantage to having the two tall forwards (Crouse at 6’4″ and Bjugstad at 6’6″) is that there is less open ice for the opponents. Among the fearless penalty killers who have played more than 20 minutes with a man in the box, Crouse has been the most effective as he has a mere 2.05 powerplay goals against per 60 minutes.
Arizona’s special teams are fantastic news for Yotes fans. Special teams can be a significant difference maker in teams winning or losing a game. Thus, if the Coyotes can maintain their special teams’ success and become more of a threat 5v5, the team will be set up for future success and be able to capture more wins.