The Arizona Coyotes kicked off the 2022-23 season dropping a self-inflicted dud against the far superior Pittsburgh Penguins, losing 6-2. The loss should not have come as a surprise as the team is now in year two of the full-blown rebuild. The way that the team lost should have Coyotes fans feeling slightly disappointed with the team’s performance.
Clayton Keller gets an exemption as he should have been rusty after missing the preseason recovering from last season’s ending leg injury.
He looked rusty.
Nick Schmaltz did what Nick Schmaltz does, and exited the game with an upper-body injury, after logging 2:26 minutes of ice time, and a -1 plus/minus rating. Pretty disappointing after missing most of the preseason nursing a lower body injury. Let’s hope that he is able to get healthy and stay that way or this could be a really long season.
The defense was porous, allowing 53 shots on goal in what quickly became a shooting gallery on Karel Vejmelka. Vejmelka was not as bad as his numbers looked, as he often made the first and second saves. His defense did not bail him out and the third or fourth attempts ended up in the back of the net. This game could have been much, much worse if not for the play of Vejmelka.
Yes, the Penguins scored a few nice goals, but that is what stars do.
Vejmelka kept the team “in the game”.
Sloppy and undisciplined play led to the Penguins getting 6 powerplay attempts. The team came out of that mess only surrendering 2 powerplay goals. If the team is going to be competitive this season, they need to shore up the lousy penalties.
There were three bright spots from this game. The first, Nick Ritchie scored both of the teams goals, giving him 12 goals in his 25 games as a Coyote. He is proving to be a steal in the trade that brought him here last season. The throwback power forward is continuing to deliver for the desert dogs.
Second, JJ Moser came through with 2 assists and moved the puck very well in a game that was quickly out of hand. If any fantasy owners took a chance on him they were rewarded last night.
Lastly, Shane Gostisbehere came through with 2 powerplay assists and four shots on goal. The 29-year-old is continuing to be the best player on the Coyotes’ blue line. Watch out though; if he continues to play at this level he will be moved to another team for future assets. Enjoy Gostisbehere while you can.
The team looks to correct the mistakes and play competitive hockey tomorrow night against the Boston Bruins (1-0-0), in Boston. The game starts at 4 pm MST, and will be available on Bally Sports Arizona (TV) and Arizona Sports 98.7 FM (Radio).
A season of peaks and valleys are ahead. Here is to hoping for more peaks for the ‘Yotes, here in the Valley.