Arizona Coyotes start Stanley Cup quest with shutout loss to Avalanche

Arizona Coyotes (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)"n
Arizona Coyotes (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)"n /

The Arizona Coyotes entered uncharted territory and it didn’t end well

When the Arizona Coyotes began their game against the highly-favored Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday afternoon, they knew that they were facing one of the odds-on favorites to win the Stanley Cup.

What better way to begin a best-of-seven series than to know you could use the first game’s results to measure your own team’s progress against the best? The first 10 minutes featured entertaining back and forth hockey with plenty of teeth-rattling hits on both sides as the teams felt each other out. Passes from the Coyotes’ back end were crisp and accurate, and the ‘Yotes got the puck out of their “D” zone pretty quickly early on.

Jason Demers ultimately misplayed a puck in his own zone and couldn’t clear it, resulting in his first series penalty and the first power play opportunity for the Colorado Avalanche at 12:06 of the period. Colorado appeared a bit too fancy by showing off their passing ability and didn’t shoot much. The Coyotes were thus able to kill the penalty.

The Arizona Coyotes lacked offense in Game 1 loss

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  • It seemed as if the ice was slanted in favor of the Avalanche during the final 10 minutes of the first period, and Darcy Kuemper again had to clean up after his teammates in the defensive zone. Indeed, it reminded me of how much the Desert Dogs rely on their goalkeeping to keep the team competitive.

    The Coyotes managed only one shot in the last 6-plus minutes of the period (3 total), while Colorado had 13 shots total. The ending of the period seemed all too familiar to Coyotes’ faithful – not much offense and a bit too much puck chasing.

    The second period seemed more evenly played for the first 10 minutes and the Coyotes were able to muster a couple of shots.

    Avs’ goalkeeper Philipp Grubauer wasn’t challenged much until the second half of the second period when some helter-skelter play by the Coyotes resulted in Grubauer having to actually focus and take the game seriously. Nevertheless, it certainly seemed inevitable that the Avalanche strikers would breakthrough prior to the end of period two. They didn’t, but they led in shots 28 to 7.

    At 12:21 of the third period, Derek Stepan committed an interference penalty and the Avalanche scored on the ensuing power play on a goal by Nazem Kadri. Ten seconds later, Colorado scored again on an even-strength goal by J.T. Compher, and the walls finally caved in when the Coyotes gave up a third goal by Mikko Rantanen.

    What was obviously missing throughout the game was any semblance of a sustained attack by the Coyotes. They simply couldn’t string passes together and were too often outnumbered and thus “one and done.” That’s nothing new or surprising to the Arizona faithful, but something has to change if the ‘Yotes are to be competitive in this series.