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.