With Thanksgiving around the corner, it’s only right for Coyotes fans to express gratitude for the team and organization. The Yotes may not be at the top of the standings, but Arizona is performing better than expected and has pulled out some unexpected wins multiple times throughout the season already. Additionally, multiple players have stepped up and improved their game and the team has been playing well with its current structure and the power-play is still top 10 in the league.
So here are some things that Arizona Coyotes fans should be appreciative of this season:
Standout Rookie Performances
The Coyotes’ three rookies, Matias Maccelli, Dylan Guenther, and Jack McBain, have all been playing well and are contributing in their own ways. Maccelli is leading all NHL rookies in assists (10) and is second in points (11). He is also a big reason for the Coyotes’ success on the powerplay as he is tied with Clayton Keller for the team lead in powerplay points. Guenther is currently producing at a 0.5-points-per-game pace. Not bad for a kid who is currently 19 years old and was playing in the WHL six months ago. Although Jack McBain’s offensive numbers are not as impressive as Maccelli or Guenther, McBain has brought a good physical presence as he is currently fourth on the team in hits despite only playing around 13 minutes a game.
The Coyotes have a ton of trade bait. There are players who are on expiring contracts and performing extraordinarily, such as Shayne Gostisbehere and Nick Ritchie. There is also Conor Timmins who has been plagued with injuries in the past few years but has great potential and the ability to further strengthen his game. Toronto has been one of the reported teams interested in acquiring Timmins. Finally, how can I forget Jakob Chychrun? The value of Chychrun will only increase once he returns to play. Any teams who are looking to upgrade their defense will definitely be watching.
If Bill Armstrong decides to move these players at the trade deadline to desperate teams hoping to make playoffs or a deep run in the playoffs, can you just imagine the assets that Arizona will receive in return?
Veggie’s solid goaltending and ability to steal games have been a large contributing factor to most of the Coyotes’ wins this season. His strong performance is reflected in his analytics as he currently has a 4.7 goals saved above average and a respectable 0.583 quality starts percentage.
Clayton Keller is Doing Clayton Keller Things
Keller might be the most underrated player in the NHL. If there was more coverage and hype around the Coyotes, Keller might receive the praise and attention that he deserves. Currently, Keller is a point-a-game player and has been producing very consistently. Keller has only been pointless in four games, thus far. Unlike most of Arizona’s forwards, Keller has been producing while playing even strength and on the powerplay. Overall, Keller has really been leading and carrying the offense, especially after Nick Schmaltz was injured.
Although Arizona has the smallest arena in the league and Mullet Arena was the laughingstock of the NHL for a while, the environment, atmosphere, and vibe have been tremendous. Pierre Luc Dubois of the Winnipeg Jets said that the Mullet Arena ice might be the best in the NHL. Cole Perfetti of the Jets said that the fans were “loud and exciting” while also complimenting the ice and expressing how much fun it was to play there.
Fans, reporters, and other TV personalities like Jeff Marek stated that the smaller arena allowed for a more engaged audience and a livelier atmosphere to be created, similar to a wrestling event. This was evident during the first game as fans were chanting “it’s all your fault” to Jets goalie, David Rittich, after allowing two goals and “you can’t do that” when a Jets skater was making his way to the penalty box. If the atmosphere during the first four games at Mullet Arena remains consistent for the rest of the season, Arizona might be one of NHL players’ new favorite road destinations. Furthermore, it will solidify Arizona as a hockey destination and hockey will continue to grow in the desert.