Nick Schmaltz, like the rest of the Arizona Coyotes roster, has taken a step back the last few weeks. Because of that, we will probably not be watching playoff hockey in the desert this spring.
As every day goes by the Arizona Coyotes playoff hope goes further and further away. The last few weeks have been a rude awakening for Coyotes fans as we are starting to grip with the direction of the team as other teams capitalize on their games in hand against the Coyotes.
I am not trying to single out Nick Schmaltz and blame him for the Arizona Coyotes struggles, but at the same time, Schmaltz in 2019 and 2020 have been two very different players. This team has become too resilient on Taylor Hall, and in large part that is because of Schmaltz taking a step back.
From the beginning of the season through December 31st, Schmaltz had the best points per game average at .76, he had 32 points in 42 games. He has followed that effort up with 11 points in the last 27 games of 2020, that is just .41 points per game on average, nowhere near his team-leading .76 throughout the first half of the season.
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To be fair, Schmaltz is not alone for the step back. The entire team has struggled at scoring goals, and even players like Clayton Keller, Christian Dvorak, and Carl Soderberg are not putting up as many points as they did in the first half of the season.
Schmaltz just seems to be a player that strived at being the guy in the desert. Before Hall was added to the mix he was getting more ice time and was getting more opportunities to be the guy in a close game. Now with Hall, he is being called to add a more depth type of role.
On paper, this team should have an excellent scoring depth. For a while, we were placing Conor Garland on the fourth line to spread things out, and it was working. Mindset plays into whether or not this will work. We need everyone to play at their best and do the best in the role given to them, not strive for more.
There is no guarantee that this team will make it back together next year. Some pieces are bound to be moved, so making sure our young guys like Schmaltz and Keller are at their best is imperative to the future of this team!