The Arizona Coyotes are nearing the end of a five-game road trip through the Eastern Conference, still searching for their first win of the season.
It’s been a disaster for the Coyotes this month. Last night’s defeat in New Jersey dropped their record to 0-10-1, which puts them in forgettable company. This isn’t a piece of history any team ever wants to be associated with.
There has been one bright spot though, and it’s the play of 2016 first-round pick Clayton Keller.
Taken seventh overall that year, Keller had a nice start to this season and has continued that, particularly during this most recent five-game stretch with five goals and eight points in that time, putting the 19-year-old center atop the rookie scoring race.
Keller scored another terrific goal on Saturday — albeit in another disappointing loss for the Coyotes — as he stripped the puck from Nico Hischier inside the New Jersey zone, then walked in and beat Cory Schneider through the five-hole.
“He’s a guy who has some swagger,” Coyotes general manager John Chayka told USA Today. “He has real confidence in him, bordering on cockiness. That’s a good thing because he is a respectful kid and a good teammate. He works well with coaches and he takes criticism well. He’s a big part of what we are trying to do here.”
The Coyotes visit the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday and the Detroit Red Wings the following night, so if they are to get their first win of the season this week, it will have to come in a back-to-back situation at the end of an already disheartening road trip.
Making matters worse is the fact that coach Rick Tocchet told reporters after the game that defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson went through concussion protocol late in the third period of last night’s game.