Compared to the attention surprise teams like the Colorado Avalanche and Calgary Flames have received early this season, the Phoenix Coyotes have been relatively ignored. But in case you haven’t noticed (which is kind of the point of this post), the Desert Dogs are off to a pretty decent start themselves.
On Sunday, Phoenix won its third straight, dumping Carolina, 5-3, in Raleigh. With the win, the Coyotes improved to 4-2-0, which is a decent record by itself, and even more impressive considering they’ve only played one home game, their season-opening 4-1 thrashing of the Rangers.
It hasn’t been all roses, of course. Prior to their current winning streak, the Coyotes got smoked 4-1 in San Jose and 6-1 on Long Island.
“The last three games we’ve stabilized,” head coach Dave Tippett said, per azcentral.com. “It seems like players know exactly now what’s expected.”
True to form when the Coyotes are winning games, there isn’t one player that’s doing it all. Nine of them have three points or more; 11 have scored at least one goal.
Goaltending has been a strength as well, with Mike Smith and Thomas Greiss combining for a .917 save percentage.
Phoenix has a good chance to get another W tonight when it returns home to host struggling Ottawa.
Montreal added some forward depth on Tuesday, acquiring diminutive forward Paul Byron off waivers from Calgary.
Byron, 26, is a veteran of nearly 150 career NHL games, most coming with the Flames. Despite fairly solid production over the last two years — 40 points in 104 games — he was exposed to waivers on Monday, along with fellow forward Mason Raymond.
(Calgary does have a logjam of players at forward, hence parting ways with Byron and Raymond.)
Byron can play both wing and center but, at 5-foot-7, 153 pounds, is one of the most undersized skaters in the league. Thankfully for him, Montreal has an affinity for undersized forwards, with the likes of Brendan Gallagher (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) and David Desharnais (5-foot-7, 174 pounds) already on the active roster.
Byron could also fill Zack Kassian‘s roster spot. Kassian is currently suspended without pay while undergoing Stage 2 of the NHL’s Substance Abuse program.
The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.
Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.
That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.
If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.
The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.