GLENDALE – General Manager Don Maloney is encouraged by the way the Coyotes played their past two games – especially the game vs. Minnesota last Saturday in which Arizona earned a point yet lost 4-3 in a shootout.
Maloney liked the team’s effort in that game and the pace with which it played for 65 minutes. That must continue, Maloney told the team’s flagship radio station, if the Coyotes are going to contend for a playoff berth.
"We have to increase our team speed," Maloney told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. "It’s that simple. We have to play quicker in all positions."
Maloney said he’d like all players to match rookie forward Tobias Rieder’s hustle.
"For anybody that’s watched us the last month, he sticks out in the speed and the tempo he’s playing with," Maloney said. "Tobias Rieder, to me, is the one player we can all say 'Hey, this guy is above and beyond what we expected.'"
Maloney, who has been on the job since 2007, will soon become the franchise's winningest general manager. He is currently tied for first with John Ferguson with 278 victories. Ferguson was GM of the Winnipeg Jets for their first nine-plus seasons in the NHL. The Coyotes next play on Saturday afternoon at Los Angeles.
• The Coyotes did not practice on Thursday so it remains unclear which goalie, Mike Smith
or Devan Dubnyk
, will start on Saturday. Dubnyk has played the past two games while Smith has worked with Goaltenders Coach Sean Burke
after starting the season with a 5-14-2 record.
Maloney said he’s confident Smith will return to form.
"Every player in their career has cycles and unfortunately right now Mike is in a down cycle," Maloney said. "Devan Dubnyk, fortunately, has come in and given us a little stability, but at the end of the day I’m 100 percent confident Mike will bounce back. He’s very capable of ripping off 10, 12 games in a row. He’s that good. And it’s not as if he’s 41 years old and broken down and can’t do it anymore. He’s a guy in the prime of his career and he’s in peak shape. It’s just a matter of pulling it together."
• Center Martin Hanzal continues to dominate in the face-off circles. Hanzal ranks first in the Western Conference and second in the NHL with a 59.0 percent success rate. Only Montreal’s Manny Malhotra (62.4 percent) is better.
• Prospect Max Domi is auditioning for Hockey Canada’s team for the upcoming IIHF World Junior Championship, which begins Dec. 26. The 2013 first-round draft pick is expected to earn a spot on the team and have an impact in the 10-team annual tournament. His junior team’s G.M., Basil McRae, is reportedly lobbying for Domi to be Canada’s team captain.
"You don't really worry about that stuff," Domi told reporters. "Right now we're all just trying to make the team and it doesn't really matter who gets (the captaincy). We're going to have 22 leaders in that room and we're going to go from there."
As captain of the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights, Domi has notched 58 points (17 goals and 41 assists) in 27 games. That ranks third in the OHL.