The Arizona Coyotes have been an organization that has struggled for many years to get to a playoff spot. Now, with the qualifiers for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, they have their opportunity. Arizona will need to maximize scoring and fight as a defense to bring the cup to the desert for the first time.
The Coyotes have a strong young team that has helped them do well this season. Young players such as forwards Christian Dvorak and Connor Garland have exceeded this season in goals and being leaders on the team. Garland and Dvorak have driven this team on the offensive front leading to scoring advantages and power play intensity.
The offense is full of young players matched with skilled veterans, which has been one of the main successes for Arizona. Pairing players such as Clayton Keller and Phil Kessel has created a top-line possibility that manages to score almost every game.
Head coach Rick Tocchet crafted this team to match players with linemates who hold the same on-ice mindset that creates the game-winning atmosphere.
On the defensive side, Jakob Chychrun paired with Alex Goligoski makes them a huge threat to other defenses. This dynamic duo utilities the entirety of the ice to block opponents and prevent goals. While the pair rallies on the defense, they also play two-way hockey and have managed to be high goal scorers on the team.
Other defenders such as Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Jason Demers also help with leading the defense. However, they are not as strong as a pair in playing two-way. The main flaw on the defense has been rotating pairs as Tocchet tries to see what works to his liking. It has shown to be counterproductive when it creates missed opportunities and mismatches, which lead to porousness and goals aplenty being scored against them. Moving into elimination rounds, the Coyotes will need to focus on pairing those who work well together on defense to create a strong intensity to match the offense.
Goaltending is the Coyotes main downfall so far this season. With their goaltenders both receiving injuries and being out for a period of time, the team was left with a new dynamic in the net. This gave opponents easy scoring opportunities as well as power-play advantages. Darcy Kuemper, when healthy, had a great run, was able to keep the pucks out of the net, and was a strong aspect to the defense.
The Coyotes have a strong opportunity to move into the playoffs if they focus on their lines and reevaluate goaltending with their defense. Arizona also needs to maintain the two-way hockey players must possess in order to be a constant threat to opponents.