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Arizona Coyotes season snapshot

Four points out of wild card following Hall trade, lengthy Kuemper absence

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

With the NHL pausing the 2019-20 regular season on March 12 due to the concerns surrounding the coronavirus, NHL.com is taking stock of each of the League's 31 teams.

Today, a snapshot of the Arizona Coyotes at the pause:

 

Arizona Coyotes

Record: 33-29-8, 74 points

Playoff position: Four points behind Vancouver Canucks and Nashville Predators for second wild card into Stanley Cup Playoffs from Western Conference

The Coyotes appeared ready to emerge as a Stanley Cup favorite in the Western Conference when they acquired forward Taylor Hall, who was voted winner of the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP in 2018, in a trade from the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 16. Arizona defeated the San Jose Sharks 3-2 the following day to move into first place in the Pacific Division with a record of 20-12-4.

But everything changed Dec. 19, when goalie Darcy Kuemper sustained a lower-body injury in an 8-5 loss to the Minnesota Wild. At that point, Kuemper was 15-8-2 with a 2.17 goals-against average, a .929 save percentage and two shutouts, and was among the leading contenders to win the Vezina Trophy as top goalie in the NHL.

 

More Coyotes season snapshot coverage: Awards | Fantasy honors | Memorable moments

 

With backup Antti Raanta also in and out of the lineup because of a lower-body injury, the Coyotes went 11-13-4 during Kuemper's absence and were 2-3-0 since he returned Feb. 25, leaving them four points behind the Predators and Canucks for the second Western wild card and in danger of failing to qualify for the postseason for an eighth straight season.

Arizona's 2.79 goals-against average while Kuemper was out -- up from 2.49 before he was injured -- was fifth in the NHL. But the increase of 0.30 goals per game was significant because the Coyotes were 25th in the NHL in scoring (2.71 goals per game) during that stretch (compared to 2.70 before his injury).

Hall leads the Coyotes with 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists) in 35 games since the trade. Arizona has not been getting enough production from the rest of its lineup; forwards Nick Schmaltz (22 points), Conor Garland (22) and Clayton Keller (21) are the only other forwards with as many as 20 points since Hall arrived.

Forward Phil Kessel, who was acquired in a trade from the Pittsburgh Penguins on June 29, 2019, has 38 points (14 goals, 24 assists) in 70 games after scoring 82 points (27 goals, 55 assists) in 82 games last season.

Video: Season Snapshot: Arizona Coyotes

 

Breakout player

Conor GarlandIn his second NHL season, the 24-year-old forward leads the Coyotes with 22 goals, including an Arizona-high five game-winners, and is third with 39 points (17 assists) in 68 games. Selected by Arizona in the fifth round (No. 123) of the 2015 NHL Draft, Garland last season had 18 points (13 goals, five assists) in 47 games with Arizona and 25 points (12 goals, 13 assist) in 21 games with Tucson of the American Hockey League.  

Video: Top 10 Coyotes Plays ... Thus Far

 

Statement win

Coyotes 7, Tampa Bay Lightning 3, Feb. 22: The Lightning were the hottest team in the NHL, having won 11 of their previous 12 games, and the Coyotes broke out with a season-high seven goals at Gila River Arena. Garland had four points (two goals, two assists), and Keller had three (two goals, one assist).

Video: Garland's three points lead Coyotes past Lightning

 

Most compelling game

Coyotes 3, Sharks 2, Dec. 17: With all eyes on Hall after the trade the previous day, the forward got his first point with the Coyotes by setting up defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson's goal that broke a 2-2 tie with 2:37 remaining at SAP Center.

Video: Ekman-Larsson, Coyotes top Sharks in Hall's debut

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