At right around the NHL season’s midway point, the Arizona Coyotes are firmly entrenched in the playoff picture. At 24-16-4 with 50 points through 44 games, Arizona was in second place in the Western Conference Pacific Division standings, just two points behind division-leading Las Vegas.
The Coyotes entered the beginning of 2020 on a hot streak, winning back-to-back home games over defending champion St. Louis and Anaheim. The howling continued with a 6-2 trouncing of Philadelphia at home Saturday, Jan. 4.
Clayton Keller scored two goals against the Flyers. Goaltender Antti Raanta saved all 17 shots he faced before leaving with a lower-body injury
Nick Schmaltz added two assists Saturday; he leads the team with 35 points. Conor Garland had a team-leading 14 goals at the season’s halfway point.
Goaltender Darcy Kuemper is also playing exceptionally well through his first 25 games this season, with a 92.9 save percentage. He was selected for the 2020 NHL All-Star Game.
Kuemper is the fourth goalie to be selected as an all-star in Coyotes history and the first since Mike Smith received the recognition in 2017.
“Those are all obviously great goalies that had great careers, and Smitty’s still playing, so to be in the same conversation as those guys when it comes to something like that is a huge honor,” he said in an article on the team’s website. “I’m super excited for this chance.”
Kuemper is also hoping the selection helps him continue his success into the rest of 2019.
“It’s definitely a boost of confidence to be named amongst the best players in the league, to get a chance to go to the All-Star game with those guys,” he said. “That confidence will really help push me through the second half of the season.”
Arizona is on a three-game road trip this week with stops at the Florida Panthers Tuesday, Jan. 7, Tampa Bay Thursday, Jan. 9, and Carolina Friday, Jan. 10. The Coyotes return to Glendale’s Gila River Arena to host Pittsburgh Monday, Jan. 12, and San Jose Wednesday, Jan. 14.
For tickets, visit nhl.com/coyotes/tickets or call 480-563-PUCK.