Defense wins championships, it is that simple, and the Arizona Coyotes have a great defense. The Arizona Coyotes are rock solid on all aspects of the defensive zone, from goaltending to the PK.
Let’s breakdown the Arizona Coyotes “bread and butter” the penalty kill. The Arizona Coyotes have been short-handed 7 times this season, and have given up 0 power play goals against. Last season they had a penalty kill percentage of 84.96. Meaning they were short-handed 226 times, and only gave up 34 goals against on the penalty kill. Not bad at all.
The Coyotes are led by players like Brad Richardson, Michael Grabner, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Alex Goligoski on the penalty kill. Having such a deep group of penalty killers is a great thing. Derek Stepan can join the mix, or Vinnie Hinostroza can be added into the group.
When you combine the skill of these penalty killers with the goaltending of Darcy Kuemper you get a great result. Kuemper has only given up 4 goals throughout the first 3 games of the season. Even when you throw Antti Raanta in the net things should still be good from the penalty kill.
Honestly the amazing thing about our penalty kill is how many opportunities they are generating. Grabner found himself on a breakaway a few times against Vegas during the PK, and Conor Garland scored right after a penalty expired. Having a group of defenders that are always thinking of generating a scoring chance really makes the difference in the NHL today.
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Last season the Coyotes had 16 short-handed goals. You can thank the speed of this team for that, and it should result in more goals this season.
The best championship teams are great defensively and on the penalty kill. Just think of the recent Stanley Cup Championship teams. Whether it be the St. Louis Blues or the Washington Capitals, those teams won in their own end. You want to have your role players that you can put out when the going gets tough.
Obviously it is fun to win games by a large score, but often that won’t happen. You need to have your defense on their game every night, and the Coyotes have that. Obviously we are going to have to talk about a struggling offense a lot, but that does not change that it is the defense that will win the Coyotes games this season.