Thanks to some stellar goalkeeping, the Arizona Coyotes were able to grab 3 of 4 points from the Colorado Avalanche in Colorado.
Goalkeeper Antti Raanta started for the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday night after replacing injured starter Darcy Kuemper on Monday. It’s good, no great, that he took the ice, because he was the main reason the Yotes left Colorado with any points at all.
Although the Avalanche scored at 1:23 of the first period on a shot from between the circles by an uncovered Brandon Saad, Raanta was in control from there.
In an extraordinary display of “lights out” goalkeeping, Raanta did everything but stand on his head (although he may have done so and I just missed it), in shutting down the dynamic and ultra-talented Avalanche.
As the “dialed in” netminder faced shot after shot late in the game, I thought about how disappointing it would be if all of his hard work was for naught, with the relentless Colorado Avalanche gaining both points.
I don’t know if it’s ever proper to feel sorry for a goalkeeper, but I did for “Raants” last night. He looked like a sitting duck. Or a sitting Coyote. Even with all five of the Coyotes’ skaters backed into their “D” zone to help out, Raanta kept having to make save after save before the Yotes could gain temporary possession of the puck and then have it jammed down their throats moments later.
For as much time as the Coyotes played defense, at least some credit is due for the team’s success in keeping the Avalanche to a single goal in regulation time. Hockey is a team sport, however, and the purpose of the game is to win by outscoring your opponent, and therein lies the Yotes problem.
Credit is certainly due to the Coyotes’ penalty killing units, as they shut down and aggravated the Colorado power play lines all night. Their efforts, combined with Antti Raanta’s heroics, kept the Desert Dogs in the game throughout despite the absence of any semblance of a Coyotes attack.
Kudos should also be given to Tyler Pitlick, who scored the Coyotes lone goal. He seemed to be everywhere trying to create offense or put pressure on the Avs’ defenders through his forechecking in their “D” zone.
The Avalanche took 46 shots last night, while the Coyotes took a mere 14. I know that it’s hard to manage any sustained attack when you’re playing on your “back skates” trying to defend wave after wave of attackers. But is the Avalanche’s roster that much better than the Coyotes group? Maybe so. Probably so.
Beginning Friday night, the Coyotes will re-engage with the very hot, third-place Minnesota Wild (15-8-1 31 pts), who just beat the first place Vegas Golden Knights (16-6-1 33 points) twice in St. Paul.
Regardless, what happens next? Expecting your goalkeepers to keep your team relevant is an unreasonable task. How can the Coyotes (12-10-4 28 pts) score enough goals to have any chance of beating their Honda West Division opponents in their quest for the playoffs?
Let’s see if Coach Tocchet’s tinkering can result in an effective offensive scheme for the remainder of this road trip. The team desperately needs to score goals, but with the current roster it may be akin to just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. I hope not. Let’s go Coyotes!