Arizona Coyotes may be turning the corner

Arizona Coyotes may be turning the corner

Riding a three-game winning streak for the first time this season, the team is starting to play much better hockey.

William Grigsby

A three-game winning streak may not be much to most NHL teams, but when you look at the success this year's Arizona Coyotes' team has experienced, it's quite significant.

The sweet Florida sweep

After a home stand sweep of the Florida teams, defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning decisively 5-3, and then taking down the Florida Panthers in overtime 3-2, the team may be headed in the right direction.

They also shutout the Vancouver Canucks in the last game before the All-Star break on Thursday by a score of 3-0.

What was especially impressive in the Canucks' game was the stellar defense the Coyotes displayed. The Vancouver team failed to get a single shot on goal in the opening period. In fact, the hapless Canucks didn't manage a shot on goal for the first eight minutes of the middle stanza to emphasize the stiff defense employed by the Yotes.

That kind of excellent defense is what Head Coach Dave Tippett has been waiting to see.

Goalie Mike Smith, who collected a shutout, commented to Jerry Brown of

"It was pretty boring there for a period and a half but that just shows what the guys did in front of me tonight," Smith said. "We really wanted to win this game and get on a little bit of a roll. We've played a lot better as of late and we were due to be rewarded. It was a solid performance all around. It was a team shutout."

What is becoming obvious is the development of the young prospects, who are starting to show their real promise as the last half of the season ensues.

Prospects are developing nicely

One of those prospects who has shined lately is Jakob Chychrun who has two goals, and two assists in his last five games. His offensive abilities as well as his defensive prowess are increasing with each game he plays.

Another prospect picking up steam is Lawson CrouseHis wraparound goal against Vancouver was a thing of beauty. He is filling the role on the fourth line well, and his size is quite helpful in the corners fighting for loose pucks.

Christian Dvorak is settling in as a dependable center with four goals and nine assists to his credit. Tippett has noticed his development and maturity by increasing his ice time to over 14 minutes a game. He seems to always be around the puck and play a good 200 foot game which fits into Tippett's style of play.

Brendan Perlini has a nose for the net, and a quick effective shot which means he could be the goal-scorer the team could use going forward. He has seven goals in 23 games and has been on the power play unit demonstrating the confidence the coaching staff possesses in his abilities. His 17.9 per cent shooting also shows he can light up the goal light with the best of them.

​ Alexander Burmistrov has contributed heavily to the winning streak. Source: Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America)
​ Alexander Burmistrov has contributed heavily to the winning streak. Source: Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America)

Another factor in the Coyotes' sudden turnaround has been the acquisition of center Alexander Burmistrov. In just six games with his new team, he has shown he can help the offense with one goal and five assists. His speed and tenacity around the puck are assets the Coyotes hoped to get when they picked him up recently.

Add in Mike Smith's level of play, with his .915 save percentage, and 2.80 goals against in the last five games and it is easy to see this is the direction this team aspired for when they laced up their skates at the beginning of the season.

Some things take time, and with the not too distant return of forward Max Domi in about two weeks, things could improve further. He starts practicing with the team on Monday.

Looking ahead

The next challenge in this current five-game home stand is to take it to the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday, and then follow it up with a strong effort against the dominant Chicago Blackhawks

Winning both those games will turn some heads and feed the confidence this team has lacked.