TORONTO - Max Domi and Anthony Duclair's chemistry has helped Canada win gold at international junior tournaments, and now it's paying early dividends for the Arizona Coyotes.
The two 2013 first-round draft picks, known as the "Killer Ds," currently rank in the top five in rookie scoring and have helped Arizona to a 4-3-1 record to start the season.
Domi and Duclair's on-ice rapport dates back to the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament, where they helped Canada win gold. The two played on a line at this year's world junior championship, combining for nine goals and 18 points in seven games as Canada won gold. The championship game was played at Air Canada Centre, where the Coyotes faced the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night.
Domi was one of the first people Duclair called when the Rangers dealt him to the Coyotes in March as part of the trade that sent defenceman Keith Yandle to New York.
"It's been going on for a few years now and it's pretty cool to translate it to the NHL," said Duclair. "We're playing on the power play together and things are rolling so far.
"I think our friendship off the ice really translates well. We just seem to find each other wherever we are and communication and preparation is really key for us to have some success."
Domi had nine points (three goals, six assists) entering Monday night's games, tying him with Edmonton's Connor McDavid for the rookie lead. Duclair was right behind with seven points (five goals, two assists).
"It doesn't really mean a whole lot right now to be honest," Domi said of the rookie points race. "We're trying to win hockey games and that's all you worry about."
With nine players at age 30 or older, Arizona remains one of the oldest teams in the NHL. However 39-year-old captain Shane Doan said he is impressed with the way the young players have fit in with the grizzled veterans.
"You look at our young guys and the way that they've been contributing, obviously Max and Duke have been incredible for us, but Klas Dahlbeck and Jordan Martinook have been really good as well," Doan said. "I'm a huge fan of all our young guys, but I've been more impressed with their character."
Domi grew up around the Air Canada Centre. His father Tie racked up 2,265 penalty minutes in 777 games with the Leafs, including 10 full seasons from 1995-96 to 2005-06.
"I'm excited for sure, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't, but I'm trying to kind of control that and not let my emotions get the best of me here," Domi said before Wednesday's game. "Trying to treat it like just another hockey game and hopefully get a win."
While Domi spent a lot of time at the ACC, he didn't see much of his dad's game action.
"The morning skates were really cool and meeting people like Bryan McCabe, Mats Sundin, Gary Roberts ??? all those guys ??? the list really goes on. To be able to shoot on goalies (like) Cujo (Curtis Joseph), Ed Belfour and Glenn Healy after morning skates was pretty special too and definitely something I'll remember.
"In terms of at games and stuff, I didn't really watch them I was always playing mini stick (hockey) in the wives room. A couple times after games Wade Belak would come down and I'd play. That's definitely at the top of my list for memories."