Struggling Coyotes try to end skid against Devils
NEWARK, N.J. -- The Arizona Coyotes entered the season with increased expectations after installing new general manager John Chayka, embracing a more analytical approach and landing prized defenseman Alex Goligoski in free agency.
Through five games, that has not translated into success.
The Coyotes defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in their season opener, but they lost their next four games -- all on the road, all in regulation -- and must find a way to win Tuesday in Prudential Center, a place where the New Jersey Devils are perfect in two contests this season.
"You always expect to win. That was the thing with our group," Coyotes defenseman Connor Murphy said. "During training camp, we wanted the mindset to be that every game, you are supposed to win.
"We are playing to make the playoffs and be a top team in the league. We haven't shown that at all. It's a long season and we can get there, but it's going to take work."
They'll have to do it without goaltender Mike Smith, who left the team's second game of the season with a lower-body injury and is listed as week to week. Backup goaltender Louis Domingue has started the past three games and owns a 5.03 goals-against average and .851 save percentage in five games.
The Devils (2-2-1), with just eight goals in five games, might be the perfect opponent for the Coyotes (1-4-0) as they limp along on their six-game road swing.
"We knew this was going to be a tough trip," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "We've got to find out about our team; every game we find out a little more. There are some areas that are improving and there are some areas which still need lots of work.
"We've got lots of players that are getting good experience right now, but all that being said, wins are what you come in this league for. You've got to have wins."
Left winger Taylor Hall was acquired during the offseason to help the Devils fix their 30th-ranked offense of a year ago, and he has done his part with three goals. But important forwards Adam Henrique and Michael Cammalleri, who combined for 42 goals in 144 games last season, have yet to register a goal this season.
"It is frustrating," Henrique said. "We're getting opportunities and we can't seem to find one. We just stuck with it."
Devils goaltender Cory Schneider is once again allowing his team to win games they would normally lose. He has a .943 save percentage, the best mark in the league among goaltenders to play more than three games. He has allowed two goals or fewer in his past three starts.
"You almost rely on him too much because he's so good in there," Hall said. "When I'm on the bench sitting down, and I can't really see the end result of a shot, I don't even panic because I know he's going to make the save. He's been our backbone. He's the best player on our team. The way he's been able to give us stability back there is awesome."
The Coyotes have their own scoring woes, as left winger Anthony Duclair and center Max Domi have yet to score in five games this season after reaching 20 and 18 goals a season ago, respectively. If the Coyotes are to snap their losing streak, they might need a meaningful contribution from their second-year stars.
"Max has had some decent games, still does some good things with the puck," Tippett said to AZCentral.com. "Hasn't scored like he did the start of last year. And Duclair, he had a real high shooting percentage last year that everything he shot really went in the net.
"But now the concerning thing for me is he hasn't gotten as near as many chances as he did last year. So he's gotta continue to work at his game to get his game to a level where he can help us."