There was a fair bit of excitement in Arizona at the start of the year, when the Coyotes announced four prized prospects — Jakob Chychrun, Dylan Strome, Lawson Crouse and Christian Dvorak — had made the opening night roster.
Well, that sure feels like a long time ago.
The Coyotes lost their fifth straight game on Tuesday night — a 5-3 defeat in New Jersey — and are now off to the worst start in franchise history, having earned just two points through their first six games.
“We’ve dug ourselves a hole,” head coach Dave Tippett said, per the Arizona Republic. “We recognize that, but the only way you can get out of it is to work through it. The whole group has to work through it.”
It’s tough to pinpoint one specific thing that’s caused the poor start.
The schedule has done no favors — after opening with a win at home over the Flyers, Arizona’s been on a really tough trip through Ottawa, Montreal, Brooklyn, MSG, New Jersey and, on Thursday, Philadelphia.
Goaltending has been a major issue, as Louis Domingue and Justin Peters have failed to provide consistent play since No. 1 Mike Smith went down with injury. Domingue is a ghastly 0-4-0 with a .851 save percentage and 5.03 GAA and, last night, Peters got the start but failed to make much of an impact, allowing four goals on 34 shots.
There’s more, too.
Two of the club’s brightest stars, Max Domi and Anthony Duclair, have struggled mightily to start the campaign. Domi is goalless through six games with just three points, and Duclair’s been even worse — no goals, no assists, no points and just seven shots on goal.
He’s seen his ice time fall as a result, and finished with just 13:40 last night at Prudential.
As mentioned above, Arizona also has several youngsters learning on the job — and playing prominent roles. Chychrun, one of the youngest blueliners in the league at 18, is averaging over 16 minutes per night, and the club’s best forward thus far might be Jordan Martinook, the sophomore winger with five points through six games.
If there is a silver lining here, it’s that the Coyotes go home soon.
They’ll wrap their six-game road swing in Philly, then head back to Arizona for a three-game home set against the Avs, Sharks and Predators.
On its own, a bad injury situation.
But today, things got even worse.
GM Don Sweeney announced that Backes has undergone the remove of the olecranon bursa from his elbow, and that Backes’ condition will be updated after this weekend.
(It’s surgery to correct elbow bursitis, basically.)
That would mean, presumably, the veteran winger is out until after the weekend — meaning Backes will miss games tonight against the Rangers, and Saturday against the Red Wings.
It’s a fairly significant blow.
Backes looked good in his first few games in a Bruins uniform, posting two goals and four points in five games while averaging a healthy 18:45 TOI per night.
As mentioned, the B’s are back in action tonight on Rivalry Night at MSG (8 p.m., NBCSN).
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) National Hockey League representatives are in South Korea to inspect Olympic facilities as the league mulls a decision on whether to let its players appear for a sixth consecutive Olympics in Pyeongchang.
Pyeongchang’s organizing committee said the NHL delegation, led by vice president of international strategy Lynn White and facilities operation manager Dan Craig, will make inspections on Thursday and Friday of facilities in Gangneung, a city near Pyeongchang which will host the ice hockey tournament during the 2018 Winter Games. They will be joined by NHL Players’ Association officials Sandra Monteiro and Mathieu Schneider and the International Ice Hockey Federation’s Hannes Ederer and Christian Hofstetter, the organizing committee said.
Pyeongchang organizers consider securing the participation of NHL players as a critical issue as ice hockey is one of the most popular sports at the Winter Games. The International Olympic Committee’s negotiations with the NHL over having the league’s players competing in Pyeongchang have stalled over the IOC’s decision not to pay for NHL players’ travel and insurance as it has in the past.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly recently told The Associated Press he felt “negative” about the chances the league’s players will compete in Pyeongchang.
Christophe Dubi, the IOC’s executive director of the Olympic Games, told reporters earlier this month that the NHL deciding to inspect the Gangneung facilities was a “very positive step,” but didn’t offer a firm answer on whether the IOC would consider allowing the NHL to skip the Pyeongchang Games before returning for Beijing in 2022.
NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the New York Rangers host the Boston Bruins at 8:00 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.
The Boston Bruins have been without starting goalie Tuukka Rask (lower body) for two games now and things haven’t gone well.
When Rask is between the pipes, Boston is 3-0-0, but when he’s not, they’re 0-3-0.
They dropped Saturday night’s game to the Montreal Canadiens with Anton Khudobin in goal and with him on the shelf too, the Bruins were dismantled 5-0 by the Minnesota Wild last night.
The Bruins turned to former first rounder Malcolm Subban yesterday and he lasted a little more than 30 minutes before being pulled for Zane McIntyre.
“There are some goals — I’m not going to lie — there are some goals that we thought our goaltenders should have had,” head coach Claude Julien said after the loss to Minnesota, per CSN New England.
But Julien wasn’t willing to pin it all on his rookie goalies.
“[I’m] not here to talk about a goaltender — who’s in one of his first few games — because he let in a couple of bad goals,” added Julien. “We were terrible in front of him . . . and that’s the big picture. That’s more important.”
Still, Subban has made two starts in his NHL career and has been pulled both times. He’s allowed six goals on just 22 shots during his two brief stints in the league.
It’ll be interesting to see which rookie Julien turns to tonight.
For the first time this season, the Rangers have strung together back-to-back wins.
Kreider, who has seven points in five games this season, will miss his second consecutive game because of a neck injury, while Buchnevich remains on IR with back pain.
Unlike the Bruins, the Rangers have no question marks in their crease right now.
Henrik Lundqvist will make his fourth consecutive start tonight. The 34-year-old has allowed two goals per game in each of his last three outings. That doesn’t exactly bode well for a Bruins team that’s scored four goals in their last three contests.