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Garland Gaining Confidence with Each Game, Goal

by Dave Vest @davest4yotes / Coyotes Sr. Director of News Content

GLENDALE -- Conor Garland is on a goal-scoring spree with five tallies in his past eight games, including two vs. the New York Rangers on Sunday in his first multi-goal NHL game.

His surge in production comes after he started his NHL career with no goals, but plenty of chances, in his first seven games. The key now is to keep it going and to cement himself as an NHL player.

"I feel more comfortable every game," Garland said. "I get to see film after the game, talk to the coaches and pick up new things. It's slowing down."

Garland scored his first two NHL goals on breakaways, but the next three came from within the goalie's shadow. Both of his tallies vs. New York on Sunday were subtle redirections from in front of Henrik Lundqvist.

"I don't care if they go off his pants or not," Coyotes Head Coach Rick Tocchet said. "It doesn't matter how they go in. I have to give him a lot of credit because he's in front of the net."

Video: NJD@ARI: Garland picks off a pass and beats Kinkaid

Garland has played 15 games since being recalled from the American Hockey League on Dec. 3. With forwards Christian Dvorak, Michael Grabner and Nick Schmaltz on the sidelines, it appears he'll be around for a while.

"I've heard my whole life the NHL's a hard league to make and it's even harder to stay," Garland said after Monday's practice. "I'm sure it is. I don't know if I'm staying yet, so we'll find out. It's one day at a time and we'll go from there ... I want to make their decision as hard as possible."  

Garland committed himself to making it to the NHL this season after spending two full seasons in the American Hockey League. He impressed Tocchet in training camp, but a hand injury he suffered during a preseason game vs. Los Angeles hampered his quest; he played 18 more games in the AHL before his recall.

"I had some strong beliefs that I can make the team," Garland said of his approach to training camp. "I know that wasn't a common thought among people here so I wanted to surprise some people, which I think I did. I had a great summer of training. I put a lot of time in off the ice on shooting and stick handling, and I did some training with my trainer. I think I had a really good offseason."

Garland has turned heads with a "this-could-be-my-last-shift-in-the-NHL" work ethic. He's taken 41 shots on goal, including a career-high seven vs. the Rangers on Sunday.

"He works hard every shift," goalie Darcy Kuemper said. "Regardless of what line he's on, or how much ice time he's getting, he's ready to go. I think that's a contagious thing, and it gets everyone else working as well."  

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