March 22, 2017, 10:43 AM ET [20 Comments]
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Don't look now, but the Coyotes are playing decent hockey.
Maybe for the first time this season.
Since getting their coveted second straight regulation win, last week against the Avalanche, and becoming the last team in the NHL this season to do so, the Coyotes have put together what is easily the best stretch of their season.
They are 4-2-1 in their last seven. Not too shabby.
Last night they beat the Lightning, essentially ending their hopes at the Playoffs, and they looked good doing it - putting up five goals.
(Well, technically, they probably deserved to be crushed, as their team Corsi rating was 33% - a number which has to be one of the lowest ever for a victorious team.
The Lightning doubled - DOUBLED - the Coyotes shot attempts last night. But who cares, at this point, I'll take what I can get with these guys: Go Team!
My favorite part of this game was the promotion of Anthony Duclair back to the first line. Tippett put together a highly skilled, super entertaining (and partially scary) line of Dvorak, Domi and Duclair. That has to be one of the NHL's fastest lines, but also one of it's worst defensive ones too.
The line wasn't great, but they did have a possession rating that was at least good relative to the rest of the team.
Duclair was demoted before the first game of this season, after a great rookie season. The Coyotes signed Vrbata and Duclair lost his job by doing nothing wrong. This obviously upset him - who wouldn't be upset by this? - and he had a rough training camp, which led to him hardly getting any ice time in the first week of the season.
Next thing you know, he's not playing as well as he did, everything snowballs and he's in the AHL. All reports indicate his attitude was great and he did everything he was asked.
Since he's been back, Tippett seems to have treated him like an unwanted step-child and parked him on the fourth line, but part way through the last game, and then again last night, he was back up with Domi.
To me, the Coyotes sabotaged his season. He's a professional athlete and he's got to take responsibility, but so what? The Coyotes made bad moves with one of their best young assets and they should take responsibility for that and start fresh with Duclair.
He's a speedy, player who already has a history of driving possession in the NHL - at worst he is effective and doesn't cost you games. At best he can score 20-30 goals and be a second-tier NHL star.
I was glad to see him back last night, and -this could easily be confirmation bias - he looked to have more jump to his game just being back where ought to be.
In related news, Zbynek Michalek made his season debut on Monday vs Nashville after being called up the other day. He isn't part of the future, but he's been a great solider for the Coyotes through the years and they're rewarding him for taking the demotion like a pro.
I'd rather they didn't scratch DeAngelo to play him, but I do like to see him back for a final go. Last night they did DeAgelo, I guess cause Z doesn't do back to backs at the age of 243.
Thanks for reading.