Offense is Sparse in the Desert

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - MARCH 06: Conor Garland #83 of the Arizona Coyotes attempts to control the puck against Kirill Kaprizov #97 and Mats Zuccarello #36 of the Minnesota Wild during the second period of the NHL game at Gila River Arena on March 06, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Wild 5-2. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Since the St. Louis series that saw the emergence of the “Short Leash Line” and a team that seemed poised to make things interesting in the West Division, the Coyotes have fallen hard down to Earth. After going 4-2-1 in the gauntlet, grabbing 9 of the 14 points available, the Coyotes have gone 5-6-2. Currently that has them sitting in 6th place with a .500 record, 5 points out of 4th place in the division.

Over the span of these past 13 games the Coyotes have scored 30 goals good for just 2.31 goals per game on average which has them down with the Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators in the bottom 5 of the league. The powerplay is 10th worst in the NHL at a dreadful 19.2% and most players not named Conor Garland have all but dried up offensively.

To put how bad the offense has been in perspective let’s look at stats from those who need to be top producers on the team. Christian Dvorak is beyond ice cold with only 2 points in his last 16 games. In the previous 12, he was sporting north of a point per game with a fantastic 15 points. Nick Schmaltz has 1 point in his last 12 games. In the previous 16 he was almost a point per game player with 15 points. Phil Kessel who albeit scored in yesterday’s clunker against Minnesota has 2 points in his last 8 games. In his previous 20 games, he had 16 points. Even Conor Garland himself has cooled down drastically with just 2 points in his last 6 games. In his previous 21 games was just under a point per game like Schmaltz with 20 points. The list goes on and on and you get the drift.

Clayton Keller is the only Coyote currently on the offense that is producing at any respectable level as of recent and even though he has had his own cold spells earlier in the year he’s still put in 8 points in the last 10 games and has 21 overall.

The Coyotes desperately lack the high end elite talent and while Garland has shown he is an engine that can drive this team, he nor Keller can do it alone. The offensive issues don’t just stem from this season or only under Rick Tocchet’s tenure but have plagued this team for years now going back to Dave Tippett. At the core of that issue is the lack of sustained elite talent up front. Add in that the team does not gel or fit the mold of Tocchet’s system adds further strain to the production. While acquiring the elite goal scorer is easier said then done, the Coyotes have an equally harder task by not owning a first round pick again this season. They do have 2 second round, and 2 fourth round picks with two additional in the 6th and 7th but GM Bill Armstrong is going to have to get creative with shaking up the roster to find a way to get scoring talent in the desert. While he does that, he also needs to find talent that is not going to be pushovers and will push back to aid in protecting players like Garland He also needs to find a coaching staff that complements the offensive nature that allows high end talent and skill to thrive.

Bringing in the depth players like Tyler Pitlick, Drake Caggiula and Johan Larsson does well to round out the bottom end of the roster, but the Coyotes have long lived with a bounty of bottom 6 players but no real gamechangers. I said it prior to the season and it is even more evident now. Armstrong has without a doubt has the toughest general manager job in the NHL.

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