Arizona Coyotes: Nobody misses Nick Schmaltz more than Clayton Keller
The chemistry of Nick Schmaltz and Clayton Keller was ceased when Schmaltz was injured. | (Photo: Rob Schumacher/The Republic

When a linemate goes down to injury, the team usually adjusts and finds a replacement player to fill in for him.


The two players have such instant chemistry that it becomes impossible to replace him.

Nick Schmaltz lost for the season

Nick Schmaltz's last game was against the Vegas Golden Knights on Dec. 30, 2018. He was first listed as week-to-week and then the bad news that his knee injury required surgery, and just like that his season was over.

And for many Arizona Coyotes' fans, this injury in conjunction with all the other team injuries was like putting salt in a deep wound.

The reason?

Schmaltz was playing so well... 14 points in 17 games with the Coyotes since his trade from the Chicago Blackhawks.

Make no mistake about it, a certain devastating loss for the Arizona team.

Yet, they have moved forward and found new heroes like Conor Garland and Mario Kempe who both have filled in admirably with all the starting roster players on the injured list... and some of them like Schmaltz who may not return before the season ends.

Keller/Schmaltz chemistry

To put it in illustrative terms, the chemistry between Clayton Keller and Nick Schmaltz had to remind most Coyotes' fans of the equal chemistry which was displayed between Max Domi and Anthony Duclair.

The duo knew where each other were on the ice, and that creates magical plays like this:

Not to be outdone, the duo of Schmaltz and Keller is just as entertaining.

To further bring home the evidence of the Schmaltz/Keller connection, looking at the scoring sheets it is easy to see that the two just click. During the 17 games with the Coyotes, Schmaltz had four goals which Keller assisted on and Keller had two goals which Schmaltz got the helpers credited to him.

That means in the 17 games Schmaltz participated in 35.2 percent of the points scored included both he and Keller on the scoresheet. That's the kind of chemistry you don't want to end... but injuries do that to teams, and now the Desert Dogs must fight like an endangered species to stay alive in the playoff hunt.

And, no Keller/Schmaltz chemistry to help them along the way.

There is always next season for Nick Schmaltz and he is in the last year of his entry-level contract so the Coyotes will need to re-sign him and most certainly will.

He's a very talented center and he will be very anxious to rejoin Keller and create some more highlight-type scoring plays for years to come.

All is not lost... enter Conor Garland

The guy has been phenomenal, to put it bluntly. Since he has been called up from the AHL Tucson Roadrunners he has five goals in his last five games and 10 points in 19 games in the NHL.

Now, he's no Nick Schmaltz but he has found ways to score... even off his face and that shows guts and determination to inspire his teammates and fans.

What Garland has done shows his teammates that even a little guy can go to the net and take the cross checks and abuse to help his team score goals. It has seemed to inspire his teammates... and it should.

Players like Garland don't come along all that often.

What he may lack in size he makes up in heart and downright determination... hard to find in a player.

We need more like him.

And when Schmaltz returns we will realize how much the team missed his pretty plays and excellent shooting abilities.

Do you feel the chemistry between Nick Schmaltz and Clayton Keller is significant for them to win and be a better team? Can their chemistry be rejuvenated when Schmaltz returns? Let us know in the comments section below.