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G52 Game Notes: Coyotes host Oilers looking to snap nine-game losing streak

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Photo credit:Edmonton Oilers, Arizona Coyotes, Recap, Post Game, Quotes
Cam Lewis
1 month ago
1. The Edmonton Oilers will look to finish their three-game trip through the Central Division with a winning record when they face the Arizona Coyotes for a Monday matinee at Mullett Arena.
They kicked off their trip with an ugly 6-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues, rebounded a couple of nights later with a 4-3 overtime win over the Dallas Stars, the first-place team in the division, and now they’ll face a Coyotes team that’s mired in a nine-game losing streak.
2. At the end of December, the Coyotes owned a 19-14-2 and were right in the thick of the playoff race in the Western Conference. Since the calendar flipped to 2024, Arizona has completely fallen off. They’ve won just four of nineteen games in January and February and now sit ten points out of a playoff spot with the Calgary Flames, Seattle Kraken, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, and St. Louis Blues to jump over.
The Coyotes suffered a tough loss in Colorado to the Avalanche on Sunday evening, as they carried a 2-1 lead after a strong first period but wound up losing by a score of 4-3. After the game, general manager Bill Armstrong shut down any idea that head coach Andre Tourigny’s job was in danger.
“Of course he is,” Armstrong said to PHNX Sports when asked if Tourigny’s job is safe. “That’s a silly question. I’m not even gonna answer that anymore.”
“We’re still moving forward as an organization. This is just something that you go through when you’re at these points in a rebuild. People forget that you’re still in the process because of our success early on, but let’s go over the teams that we’ve had losses against. We’re not talking about s—-y teams here. We’re talking about top teams. Those have been disappointing losses, but those were also learning losses for us when we’re at this stage in the process.”
Armstrong took over the Coyotes in September of 2020 after the organization parted ways with John Chayka. The team had made it into the bubble playoffs that summer after acquiring Taylor Hall ahead of the trade deadline but moved into a rebuilding phase after Armstrong took over, trading away the likes of Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Conor Garland, Christian Dvorak, and Darcy Kuemper while also taking on poor contracts from other teams in order to maximize the return of draft picks and prospects.
The Coyotes went 25-50-7 during Tourigny’s first season behind the bench in 2021-22, they improved to 28-40-14 in 2022-23, and are still in pace to finish 2023-24 with a better record again despite this terrible stretch.
3. A big issue for Arizona right now is scoring depth. The team has managed to score more than three goals in a game just four times between January and February and there are only a handful of players who have been doing most of the heavy lifting. Clayton Keller is leading the way with 21 goals and Lawson Crouse is right behind him with 20. Michael Carcone has 15 goals, Nick Schmaltz has 14, Nick Bjugstad has 10, and everybody else on the roster has a single-digit goal total.
The Coyotes were also dealt an unfortunate blow last week when goaltender Connor Ingram landed on the Injured Reserve with a lower-body injury. Ingram had posted a .912 save percentage over 35 games this season and had taken over the starter’s gig from Karel Vejmelka, who has an .893 save percentage in 25 games.
Starting for the Coyotes against the Oilers this afternoon will be rookie Matt Villata, a thrid-round pick of the L.A. Kings from the 2017 draft who Arizona signed as a free agent in the off-season. Villata has a .913 save percentage over 34 games for the Tucson Roadrunners of the AHL this season and stopped all four shots he faced during his NHL debut last week, a relief appearance after Vejmelka was lit up for five goals by the Carolina Hurricanes.

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