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NHL West Division Preview: The Arizona Coyotes

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The second installment of a series of posts taking a deep dive into each of the Colorado Avalanche’s divisional opponents this season.

Arizona Coyotes v Colorado Avalanche - Game Five Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

With the 2021 NHL season fast approaching, it’s time to take a deep look at the newly aligned West division to see how the Colorado Avalanche are set to fare against their seven regular season opponents this year.

In my last piece, I looked over the Anaheim Ducks to see how they’re season success against the Avs could translate into this season, after a lackluster performance against a lot of teams within the West division.

Next up, we have the Arizona Coyotes.

Colorado Avalanche v Arizona Coyotes - Game Three Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

Arizona Coyotes 33-29-8 (2019-20) 5th in Pacific

Team Stats (2019-2020)

  • GF: 195 (21st in NHL), GA: 187 (3rd in NHL), PP%: 19.2% (18th in NHL), PK%: 82.7% (5th in NHL)

Team Stats vs Avalanche (2019-2020)

  • 1-0-1 (.750 P%, 5 GF, 3 GA, 2.50 GF/G, 1.50 GA/G)

Players to Watch

  • Clayton Keller - 70gp 17g 27a 44p

Stats vs. West Division (2019-2020): 21gp 2g 11a 13p

Stats vs. Avalanche (2019-2020): 2gp 0g 2a 2p

  • Nick Schmaltz - 70gp 11g 34a 45p

Stats vs. West Division (2019-2020): 21gp 5g 11 16p

Stats vs. Avalanche (2019-2020): 2gp 1g 1a 2p

  • Jakob Chychrun - 63gp 12g 14a 26p

Stats vs. West Division (2019-2020): 20gp 5g 2a 7p

Stats vs. Avalanche (2019-2020): 2gp 0g 0a

NHL Goalie Depth

  • Darcy Kuemper - 29gp, 16-11-2, 2.22gaa, .928sv%, 2so

Stats vs. West Division (2019-2020): 9gp, 5-3-1, 2.44gaa, .924sv%, 1so

Stats vs. Avalanche (2019-2020): 1gp, 1-0-0, 0.00gaa, 1.000sv%, 1so

  • Antti Raanta - 33gp, 15-14-3, 2.63gaa, .921sv%, 2so

Stats vs. West Division (2019-2020): 11gp, 4-5-1, 2.09gaa, .930sv%, 1so

Stats vs. Avalanche (2019-2020): 1gp, 0-0-1, 2.84gaa, .906sv%, 0so

Notable Offseason Acquisitions

  • Derick Brassard - 66gp 10g 22a 32p

What could have been a very exciting playoff run for the Coyotes after they defeated the Nashville Predators in the qualifying playoff round this past season, was stopped short the very next round after the Avalanche took care of them in five games. A large part of what kept the Coyotes in the playoff picture was their stellar goaltender Darcy Kuemper, who is now tied with Anton Khudobin of the Dallas Stars for the second-best save percentage (.926) in the NHL over the past two seasons. After losing a huge part of their offense this offseason in Taylor Hall, the duo of Clayton Keller and Nick Shmaltz will be asked to carry a bulk of the scoring load in what is a division filled with defensive talent.

The past few seasons, the Coyotes young core featuring Jakob Chychrun, Conor Garland, and Christian Dvorak has taken some huge steps in their development. In addition, the Coyotes had the fifth best penalty kill in the NHL (82.7%) while also finishing third in the league in goals against (187). If they haven’t already been on the right track, being able to play against some of the best teams in the league like the Avalanche, Blues, and Golden Knights, on a nightly basis bodes well for the future of their careers.

The future is bright for the Arizona Coyotes coming off of their first playoff appearance since 2012. With a proven number one goaltender coupled with their great defensive stats, the Coyotes could turn out to be a thorn in the side of a lot of the top teams in this division.

Prediction: 5th in Division, Miss Playoffs

Arizona Coyotes v Colorado Avalanche - Game Five Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images

Colorado Avalanche - 42-20-8 (2019-20) 2nd in Central

Team Stats (2019-20)

  • GF: 237 (4th in NHL), GA: 191 (5th in NHL), PP%: 19.1% (19th in NHL) PK%: 81.4% (13th in NHL)

Team Stats vs Coyotes (2019-20)

  • 1-1-0 (.500P%, 3 GF, 5 GA, 1.50 GF/G, 2.50 GA/G)

Players to Watch

  • Nathan MacKinnon - 69gp 35g 58a 93p

Stats vs West Division (2019-20): 20gp 8g 16a 24p

Stats vs Coyotes (2019-20): 2gp 0g 1a 1p

  • Mikko Rantanen - 42gp 19g 22a 41p

Stats vs West Division (2019-20): 11gp 4g 6a 10p

Stats vs Coyotes (2019-20): 1gp 0g 1a 1p

  • Cale Makar - 57gp 12g 38a 50p

Stats vs West Division (2019-20): 15gp 6g 8a 14p

Stats vs Coyotes (2019-20): 2gp 0g 2a 2p

NHL Goaltender Depth

  • Pavel Francouz - 34gp, 21-7-4, 2.21gaa, .923sv%, 1so

Stats vs West Division (2019-20): 12gp, 6-5-1, 2.58gaa, .907sv% 1so

Stats vs Coyotes (2019-20): 2gp, 1-1-0, 2.44gaa, .922sv% 0so

  • Phillip Grubauer - 36gp 18-12-4 2.63gaa .916sv% 2so

Stats vs West Division (2019-20): 9gp 5-3-0 2.22gaa .916sv% 1so

Stats vs Coyotes (2019-20): DID NOT PLAY

Similarly to the Anaheim Ducks, one major reason why the Avalanche didn’t perform as well against the Coyotes this year was the absence of Philipp Grubauer. Although, the defensive group in Arizona, especially on the penalty kill, was a huge factor in the decision of those games as well. On their first 17 powerplay attempts including both regular season and playoffs, the Avalanche managed to score just two times. Although the Avs powerplay was pretty inconsistent for the entire 2019-20 season, a that ranks fourth in goals in the entire league is going to have to make the most of their chances this year. Especially within a division where games against lower-end teams could be the deciding factor for your playoff positioning.

UP NEXT: The Los Angeles Kings