The Arizona Coyotes have a very talented group of hockey players competing for the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season. At times it is fun to take a step back and think about what the team truly needs to add. That is exactly what we did in John Chayka’s Christmas List to Santa.
Chayka and the Coyotes are in the midst of a battle for the top spot in the Pacific Division. It is important to note this is not John Chayka’s actual Christmas list, rather we took the power into our own hands and wrote a draft for him. So without further ado: Here is what Chayka and the Coyotes should have on their list this holiday season.
5 Improved Special Teams
The Arizona Coyotes have one of the best penalty kills in the NHL, having only given up 19 power-play goals against on 105 opportunities against. However, that still does not mean they can improve further.
Arizona needs to continue to improve on their special teams play. Phil Kessel has 8 goals this season with 6 of them coming on the man advantage. Although that does share some scary results on the contributions of Phil Kessel, it also shows that Arizona needs to continue to utilize him on the power play.
Special teams are vital in the spring. I want the team to use it for their own game, not fail because of a big penalty or a missed opportunity on the power play.
4 Win more games at home
A lot of the things Chayka and the Coyotes are asking for this spring revolves around winning. We need to win games and the best place to do that is in our own arena. Now is the time to find the success at home, because winning at home in the playoffs should almost be a guarantee.
Arizona has been more successful on the road this season compared to in our home stadium. While that is not a bad thing when the team finds themselves on road trips, it is puzzling when we find ourselves back in Arizona.
I hope we can continue to see the success on the road and increase our play at home. I think we are getting too comfortable and need to push ourselves further at home. The Coyotes have fallen into a trap plenty of times this season, believing they are facing off against an easy opponent the ‘Yotes failed to show up on time for the game. I don’t care how many days of rest or if this is the ‘Yotes third game in four days, winning at home is necessary.
3 Continue to get production from top guys
We don’t need anything out of the box for Christmas this season. Rather I would rather see the team get consistent play from their entire lineup. That starts with our top guys. Phil Kessel, who in my opinion has been a very big disappointment with Arizona, needs to increase his scoring. However, Kessel is not the only player that needs to play his best.
Stars like Schmaltz, Keller, and Dvorak also need to continue to produce if Arizona wants to win. I am not saying I need to see a goal every night from Nick Schmaltz or Clayton Keller. Rather I need to see these guys put an effort in every night, and besides Conor Garland will just score every goal for the team from the fourth line right?
2 Get Taylor Hall the contract he needs to stay
Taylor Hall has an incredible amount of press to the Arizona Coyotes already. Everyone can feel the buzz about this team and Hall has only played in a few games. I really want to see Hall and Yotes stay together for a long time, and I don’t want to see the conversation switch from the team to what Hall’s contract can be someplace else.
Arizona has a superstar at their disposal right now. I am sure Hall is in no rush to sign a contract with anybody for next season, but before anyone else gets the opportunity to throw him an offer, maybe we can lock him down.
If the biggest story in February and March is about Taylor Hall’s next contract then we have an issue Arizona. This team is built to play together as a unit. If all the Coyotes are hearing about looming contracts to come day in and day out it will take away from the message that the ‘Yotes are here to compete.
1 Beat the divisional opponents
I feel like this is pretty self-explanatory. If you want to make it far in the NHL you need to succeed in house. Arizona has dropped games against the Knights, and Flames as of recently to name a few, and if they want to see themselves with home ice this spring they are going to need to show up against their divisional opponents throughout the year. That starts on Saturday against Vegas.