Arizona Coyotes Take Momentum to Two-Game Set vs Colorado Avalanche

Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images /

The Arizona Coyotes open their lengthy road trip by visiting the talented third-place Colorado Avalanche on Monday night.

The Arizona Coyotes (11-10-3 and 25 pts) hope to build upon the momentum they gained by scoring 5 unanswered goals against the talented Minnesota Wild in a 5 to 2 win on Saturday night. The challenge in doing so is that they must do it against the Colorado Avalanche (13-7-2 and 28 pts).

In their last ten games, the Avalanche are 6-3-1, while the visiting Coyotes are 5-4-1. The Avs have two games in hand over the Yotes. Here are some of the teams’ stat leader comparisons as of March 8:

#18 Christian Dvorak – 9 Goals
#96 Mikko Rantanen – 12 Goals

#83 Conor Garland – 22 Points
#96 Mikko Rantanen – 24 Points

#83 Conor Garland – 14 Assists
#29 Nathan MacKinnon – 17 Assists

#6 Jakob Chychrun – 22:55 Ice time
#8 Cale Makar – 24:28 Ice time

#18 Christian Dvorak – 52.65% Faceoff win percentage
#91 Nazem Kadri – 55.18% Faceoff win percentage

#35 Darcy Kuemper – .915 Save percentage (7 Wins) – GAA: 2.39
#31 Philipp Grubauer – .921 Save percentage (12 Wins) – GAA: 2.06

While reviewing and comparing some of the stat leader data between the two teams, I found their overall age differences interesting. Of the 24 players currently listed on the Coyotes roster, 9 of them were born in 1995 or after, meaning that they are around 25 years old (depending on their 2021 birthdays) and include 7 forwards, 1 defender (Jakob Chychrun), and one goalkeeper.

The Colorado Avalanche have 19 players on their 24-man roster at around age 25 or younger, including 10 forwards, 7 defenders, and 2 goalkeepers that were born in 1995 or later.

It’s certainly no surprise to Coyotes fans that the Desert Dogs have a few defenders that are “long in the tooth,” as only Jakob Chychrun was born after 1995. If we graciously include “old timer” Ilya Lyubushkin (born in 1994) as another “young gun,” then they have 2 of their 7 defenders at or below 25 years old.

The Avalanche have scored 68 goals in 22 games, while the Coyotes have tallied 65 in 24 games. Colorado has only given up 55 goals and have scored 13 more than they have relinquished, while the Yotes have given up 73 goals (18 more than the Avs), and 8 more than they’ve scored.

Both Cale Makar (1G 13A 14 pts) and Sam Girard (4G 13A 17 pts) of the Avalanche are 22 years old and play big-time minutes. Defenders Devin Toews (4G 7A 11 pts) is only 27, Ryan Graves is 25, and Bowen Byram only 19. Erik Johnson is a “senior” defenseman at 32.

The Coyotes defensive group is quite a bit younger than the Colorado core. Captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson (0G 9A 9 pts) is 29 and has played in only 14 games of the teams’ 24 due to an injury, while iron man Jakob Chychrun (6G 11A 17 pts) is only 22 and has been an important catalyst for many positives for the Yotes thus far in this campaign.

Alex Goligoski (0G 1A 1 pt) is 36 years old, Niklas Hjalmarsson (0G 4A 4 pts) is 33, and Jason Demers (0G 2A 2 pts) is 32, and Jordan Oesterle (1G 10A 11 pts) is 28.

In essence, how much impact does having an aging defensive core that 1) contributes relatively little (scoring wise) to the team’s offense, and 2) has difficulty in tracking, staying with, and closing down their opposition’s attacking players, affect the overall performance of the team?

Is it possible, or even likely, that young, talent-laden teams like the Colorado Avalanche are just too quick and powerful for the Coyotes current aging cadre of defenders to effectively handle?

The experience of a seasoned NHL veteran is invaluable, but his performance must still be assessed by his overall play and contributions to the team. Being a wily, clever defender is a great asset, but it can get a player just so far in this contemporary high-speed, high-scoring NHL.

Hockey fans everywhere recognize that there is still a necessary physical component to being a successful team, where a “D man” is willing, able, and desirous of “engaging” with his opponent for the good of the order.

Let’s see how the Coyotes “engage” against the high-powered Colorado Avalanche. Let’s go Coyotes!