May 21, 2024

3 questions facing Arizona Coyotes

NHL.com is providing in-depth analysis for each of its 32 teams from Aug. 1-Sept. 1. Today, three important questions facing the Arizona Coyotes.

 

[Coyotes 32 in 32: Season preview | Top prospects | Fantasy projections]

 

1. Can they replicate “Mullett Magic”?

The atmosphere in the Coyotes’ 5,000-seat arena on the campus of Arizona State University last season was fun and conducive to winning. They were 21-15-5 at Mullett Arena, their best home record since going 22-15-14 at Gila River Arena in 2015-16. They scored 24 more goals at home than the previous season (127/103) while allowing 13 fewer (141/154), and defeated nine of the 16 teams that qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“Time will tell, but, for sure, the atmosphere there was really good,” coach Andre Tourigny said. “Everything was a new experience. Hopefully we’ll be able to sustain it. I think it’s a different environment than any other teams are used to, so we’ll take full advantage of that.”

 

2. Can Blaine Forsythe help the power play?

Forsythe was hired as an assistant coach July 12 after 17 seasons with the Washington Capitals for his expertise on the power play. The Capitals were No. 1 in the NHL with the man-advantage (21.8 percent) for the 14-season period from 2009-10 to 2022-23 and finished in the top 10 in seven of the past 12 seasons.

The Coyotes were 24th (18.9 percent) last season and rank 30th (16.6 percent) across Tourigny’s two seasons. They averaged 2.74 goals per game last season (27th).

“Our defense and their ability to move the puck this year, that’s going to really fuel our forwards off the rush and transitioning to create more 5-on-5 goals,” general manager Bill Armstrong said. “I think adding Forsythe is going to be a difference-maker. He’s going to bring a new spice, a new flavor, to our power play.”

 

3. How do they come out of another grueling start to a season?

The Coyotes will play two preseason games against the Los Angeles Kings in Melbourne, Australia, as part of the 2023 NHL Global Series on Sept. 22 and 23. They’ll start the regular season on the East Coast and play six of their first nine on the road, then play three straight at home before hitting the road yet again for five games Nov. 9-18. Their first extended homestand is Nov. 28-Dec. 7 (five games).

Arizona started last season on a six-game trip (2-4-0), then played four games at home (1-2-1) and 14 in a row on the road (4-7-3). The Coyotes were 7-13-4 by the time they returned home for a game Dec. 9.

“I think we’re better equipped, no doubt about it,” Tourigny said. “If you see that as a challenge and an opportunity to keep growing. I think it will go well. If you see that as a threat and only on the negative side, that will catch up to you.

“We are fortunate to go to Australia and have great team bonding right from the get-go. When we come back, we’ll rely on sports science and make sure we do the proper thing mentally and we have the proper rest for our bodies so we can be ready for the start of the season.”

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