Arizona Must Build on Early Season Success, Even if it Stops
Not many people expected the Arizona Coyotes to start out 3-0-0, and that includes myself. In my eyes at the start of the season, it would have been pretty good for them to have three wins midway through November. They’ve taken down some strong opponents in the process (Pittsburgh, Anaheim, Los Angeles), and have only allowed two goals in those games. It’s a very impressive all around scoreline.
Now, even if the Coyotes fall back to earth, this is a huge experience for them. Young players such as Max Domi, Anthony Duclair, Connor Murphy, and Tobias Rieder are getting their first cracks at full-time NHL minutes, and winning certainly helps them in their development. If the Coyotes do start to spiral back towards the bottom of the standings, they can still use this hot start to the season as something to build upon.
Another positive for the Coyotes is the play of Mike Smith. So far, he’s posting a perfect record with a 0.67 GAA and a save percentage of .981. Smith had an abysmal 2014-2015 campaign; he had a 3.16 GAA and a .904 save percentage in that season. If Smith can return to something even close to his 2012 form, the Coyotes will take a big leap.
Even with all the positives, at the end of the day, the Coyotes should be concerned with where they finish in the standings. Arizona native Auston Matthews is projected to go first overall next June and is currently tearing it up in the Swiss league. Getting Matthews would add to an already impressive core of the previously mentioned Domi, Duclair, and Rieder (not to forget Dylan Strome) will put Arizona on a good path for the future. With all the early season success, playoffs still look like a distant hope for the team, but the signs they’ve shown are encouraging. If they can pull a 2015 Calgary Flames and make the playoffs, I would certainly root for them, and it would also help their money concerns as well. It’s a long season and only time will tell how Don Maloney’s roster plays out, but it’s been a good start for the boys in the desert.