Real Time Analytics

Can The Arizona Coyotes Actually Make The Playoffs?

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

How do the Coyotes stack up against their closest competition?

Everybody loves an underdog. 

It’s very easy to write off Cinderella teams at the start of the season. “Luck,” “small sample size,” “there’s 82 games” are the common phrases for dismissing unexpected success. However, when the calendar turns to the new year, and that team is still second in their division, it’s time to take them seriously.

So can the Arizona Coyotes actually do this? There’s certainly some cause for concern, but the Pacific Division might just be bad enough to give them the shot they need.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about the Coyotes this season is their scoring depth. They have six forwards with over 20 points this year, plus defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson with 32 points. If one falters, there’s somebody there to fill the void. Add in an impressive start for rookie Louis Domingue (.932 save percentage, 2.14 goals against average in 11 games) and there’s promise between the pipes after inconsistent play from Mike Smith and Anders Lindback

The rookies don’t stop there. Maxi Domi (13-18-31) and Anthony Duclair (12-12-24) are in the top five in rookie scoring. Individually, the Coyotes have a lot to be excited about now, and in the future. 

As a team, however, the Coyotes have some sustainability issues. They’re on the wrong side of possession, posting a Corsi For percentage of 46.6 and a Fenwick For percentage of 45.6 (both are good enough for second-worst in the NHL). Arizona’s high danger scoring chance percentage is at 49.2, and their overall scoring chance percentage is at 47.2. They also have the fifth-highest PDO at 101.5. They have the sixth-worst penalty kill at 77.8 percent. Their overall goal differential is -8. Of the 16 teams in playoff position the morning of Jan. 13, only three (including Arizona) have negative goal differentials (the others being Detroit and Nashville). Anthony Duclair, Shane Doan, and Max Domi (all of whom are part of that 20-point group) have bloated shooting percentages of 26.1, 18.1, and 16, respectively.   

There’s reason to be excited, but there’s even more reason to expect a big negative regression. But with the Pacific Division playing the way it is, there might not be anyone around to catch them.

The Los Angeles Kings seem to have the top spot on lockdown with a nine-point lead (57 to 48 points) over second place Arizona, leaving the second and third place spots up for grabs. The San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks are tied for the third spot with 44 points apiece. 

Of these two teams, San Jose is the most likely to overtake Arizona. Not only do they have a game in hand on Arizona, but they also have favorable possession numbers (52 Fenwick For percentage, 50.3 Corsi For percentage). Vancouver, on the other hand, is on the wrong side of both at 48.2 and 47.6, respectively. A similar picture is painted when looking at scoring chances. San Jose has a scoring chance percentage of 51.6 compared to Vancouver’s 44.2, and a high danger scoring chance percentage of 55.7 compared to 44.4. These possession numbers suggest San Jose has a good chance of outlasting and overtaking Arizona over the next half of the season. 

Another interesting thing to watch is the resurgence of the Anaheim Ducks. The team many picked to win the Stanley Cup got off to a terrible start but has bounced back to take 41 points in as many games. They have the lowest PDO in the league at 96.7, indicating a possible positive regression. They have very strong possession numbers, finding themselves in the top three in both Fenwick For percentage and Corsi For percentage. Combine that with a strong roster capable of breaking out at any moment, and you have an Anaheim team that could be dangerous if they catch fire. The biggest obstacle for Anaheim remains overcoming a terrible start, and they’re nine points behind Arizona. It will take a very strong second half to overcome that.

In or out, nobody expected Arizona to even be in this position in the first place. In any other division, Arizona would find themselves on the outside looking in come playoff time. The Pacific, on the other hand, is a very different story. The way the team has performed in key sustainability and possession numbers suggests Arizona will drop out of the Pacific’s playoff spots, however, their division rivals might just be bad enough, or far away enough, to keep them there.   

Edited by Emily Berman, Coleman Gray.

When was the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes' inaugural season?
Created 1/13/16
  1. 1990-91
  2. 1996-97
  3. 2000-01
  4. 1998-99

Be the first to comment! 0 comments


What do you think?

Please log in or register to comment!

Can't get enough SQ?

Sign up for our weekly newsletter here!