Is it simply a rough stretch, or do the Arizona Coyotes need Darcy Kuemper healthy to stay in the race for home ice advantage in the Pacific Division? If you look solely at the numbers they suggest Kuemper’s absence, since December 19th, is the main reason the Coyotes have slid down the standings.
1. Kuemper has missed the last 17 games. Prior to his injury the Coyotes were tied for seventh overall in the NHL with 44 points and they had the fourth best GA/game at 2.49. They were 23rd in goals, averaging 2.70/game, but they were winning with sound defence and stellar goaltending. Kuemper’s .929Sv% was second best among starters trailing only Ben Bishop, who had a .933Sv%. Kuemper was in the conversation for the Vezina trophy, but then he got injured during their loss to Minnesota on December 19th.
2. Kuemper finished the game, but was clearly playing hurt as he allowed seven goals. He’s only allowed more than three goals twice in his 25 starts, and both games were against the Wild. They scored four goals on November 9th, and seven on the 19th of December. Clearly his injury was a factor in the Wild scoring a touchdown. Kuemper hasn’t played since, and the Coyotes have struggled in his absence.
3. They’ve only won six of 17 games without him. They are 6-8-3 and sit 26th in points gained since his injury. The numbers point directly to losing Kuemper.
4. He was 15-8-2 with a .929Sv% and 2.17 GAA prior to his injury. In the other 12 games Antti Raanta was 5-5-2 with a .919Sv% and a 2.72 GAA. But since the injury Raanta hasn’t been able to fill the void. Raanta is 4-6-1 with a .905Sv% and a 3.21 GAA, while Aiden Hill is 2-2-2 with a .920Sv% and 2.48 GAA.
5. The Coyotes have allowed 3.06 goals/game over their past 17 games, while their offence is virtually the same at 2.76 goals/game. The main difference is they’ve allowed .57 more goals/game. Exclude the three or four dominant teams and the few weak teams, and I think for the remaining 23 teams the line between winning and losing is very thin in today’s NHL.
6. Kuemper is getting close to returning, possibly as early as this Thursday, so the Oilers need to take advantage of the Coyotes when they aren’t at their best. It won’t be an easy game by any stretch, but right now the Coyotes aren’t the stingy team they were with Kuemper.
7. Edmonton crushed the Coyotes 7-3 on January 18th. They chased Raanta from the net scoring six goals on 18 shots through 40 minutes. Riley Sheahan had a career-high four points, Josh Archibald had three points and Darnell Nurse was +5 that night. Edmonton is 2-0-1 against the Coyotes this season and tonight is their final meeting of the season. A victory would move them five points ahead of the Coyotes with two games in hand. It is another big game in the ultra-tight Pacific Division.
8. Please help me understand why so many people, including some Oilers fans, are quick to discount Leon Draisaitl’s point production? When he scored 105 points last season it was because he played with McDavid. Through the first 32 games of the season, he led the league in scoring with 53 points, one ahead of McDavid. On December 27th McDavid led the league with 63 points and Draisaitl had 61. Then they were split up. Since then Draisaitl has scored 22 points in 11 games and now leads the NHL in scoring with 83 points. But now some people claim his 22 points is because of easier matchups and McDavid faces tougher competition. I simply don’t understand why at every turn people look for a reason to downplay what Draisaitl is doing. He is an elite player. I can’t understand why he isn’t more appreciated.
9. Here is the Oilers scoring last year compared to this season, though 52 games, as well as the Coyotes scoring.
|TEAM||TOP-5 FORWARDS||REST OF FORWARDS||DEFENCE|
10. The Oilers depth forwards have already scored more than the record-breaking low 43 goals they scored last year. The depth scoring has been quite good since November 1st, scoring 44 goals in 38 games. That is above the league average and while much of the focus is on the Oilers top-two scorers in Draisaitl and McDavid, rightfully so, the depth scoring has been quite good for the past three months.
THE HAIR MASSACURE
Hair Massacure is taking over Edmonton this winter to support the fight against childhood cancer and grant wishes to some extraordinary young patients. On February 21, 2020 thousands of heads will be shaved, once again, in honour of the journey of sick children losing their hair due to chemotherapy. All funds raised go to Children’s Wish Foundation and Terry Fox PROFYLE. You can help. Go to www.hairmassacure.com to learn more.
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