GLENDALE – The Coyotes are in the midst of a four-day break from games and center Antoine Vermette likely is eager for the hiatus to end.
That’s because Vermette has been producing points in bunches over the past five games. He’ll enter Thursday’s home game vs. San Jose having notched nine points (four goals, five assists) since March 5, the day forward Alex Tanguay made his debut with the team on a line with Vermette and rookie Anthony Duclair.
“It’s been a good chemistry,” Vermette said of the ‘French Connection’ line. “It’s nice to get into a stretch like this. We’ll take it.”
Vermette, 33, was pleased when the Coyotes acquired Tanguay, 36, and he admires the way Tanguay passes the puck. The two French Canadians sometimes skate together in the summer months so there was a comfort level between them before they became teammates.
“Antoine’s a very smart player,” Tanguay said. “He plays well in both zones and he’s extremely smart with the puck.”
Tanguay has notched three goals – all assisted by Vermette – and three assists since coming to the Coyotes via a trade with Colorado on Feb. 29. Duclair has chipped in three assists.
Vermette’s five-game hot streak is his best since 2010 when also netted nine points in five games from March 15-25. He has climbed to fifth place on the team with 14 goals, one more than he scored all of last season in 63 games with the Coyotes and 19 with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Working hard, Vermette says, always is first on his to-do list. Lately he has been getting rewarded for such effort.
“It seems I’m finding the areas a little easier and I think, too, just trusting my instincts a little better,” Vermette said. “… It’s falling in place now.”
Vermette also has been tearing it up in the face-off circles over the past five games. In all but one, he won at least 63.2 percent of his draws. On March 5, he won 73.3 percent against Florida. He has been a key contributor to the team’s overall 54.2 percent rate on face-offs, which leads the NHL.
Thanks to a 2-1-1 road trip last week, the Coyotes have managed to remain in the conversation with regards to the race for the two wild-card berths in the Western Conference. Arizona is seven points behind with 13 games to play.
“We found a way to get some wins and get some points on that trip,” Vermette said. “We definitely want to keep moving in that direction and gain some momentum out of it. We want to establish a good culture around here and create good habits regardless of where we are in the standings.”