The Arizona Coyotes played their 41st game on Saturday night and have officially entered the second half of the season. The Coyotes are currently sitting at 16-21-4 with only 36 points, good for sixth in the Pacific Division and 13th in the Western Conference.
This season has not been particularly good for the Coyotes. If I could sum up this first half of the season in one word, it would be “inconsistency”.
This first half of the season has been full of ups and downs. For a stretch, Arizona will look really good and even go on a winning streak and then get absolutely blown out and go on a bit of a losing streak.
The manner in which the year began for Arizona was very telling of what was to come, a blowout loss. Winnipeg came into Gila River Arena and completely dismantled the Coyotes on Opening Night.
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It just seems like when the Coyotes lose, they lose by a considerable margin. It’s been that way all season long. On the rare occasion that the score is close, Arizona usually has a hard time scoring. If it’s not one problem, it’s another.
Arizona has had a rough go of it in terms of scoring. If a goal is scored, it almost certainly was on a power play with a man advantage. Arizona currently has 97 Goals For and 136 Goals Against, being outscored by a margin of 39.
The first game against Winnipeg also foreshadowed what type of year Mike Smith would have. The Coyotes have been a successful team in recent years due largely in part to their goaltending. In the past years, Arizona would win games in which they were outplayed and really had no business winning, but because of stellar goaltending, they would take home the win.
That just hasn’t been the case this year, unfortunately. Smith has had a very hard time in net and it has really cost Arizona. Smith is carrying a record of 7-17-2 with 89 Goals Against and Save Percentage of only .885.
It hasn’t been all bad though, there have been a number of bright spots for the team this year. Because of the down year, we have gotten to see some of the young prospects make their debuts and get a glimpse into the future of the team.
Tobias Rieder was called up and he has defiantly taken advantage of his playing time. A castaway by the Edmonton Oilers, Rieder has quickly become a fan favorite and an exciting player to watch. He looks like he will be a very solid piece of the future of the Coyotes on ice product.
Dec 1, 2014; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Arizona Coyotes forward Tobias Rieder (8) skates against the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Oliver Ekman-Larsson began the year off in a bad way, but has really fought his way back from that and even earned himself his first All-Star game appearance. With his talent, it will be the first of many in his career.
Devan Dubnyk has made an impact in a big way as well. He has salvaged his career after bouncing around from team to team last year. He’s shown himself to be a very reliable backup goaltender by actually outplaying Smith.
Probably the biggest positive thing this year was the sale of the team to Andrew Barroway. The value of the team shot up and Barroway brings more money to the organization which helps to solidify the long term future of the team in Arizona.
Despite the not so great start to the season on the ice, things are still trending positively for the organization as a whole. That’s the best news a Coyotes’ fan could ask for in a season like this.
While the team may not be playing as great as we all want, at least we in Arizona continue to have the luxury to complain about the bad on ice play because that means the team is still here.