The Arizona Coyotes team the Pittsburgh Penguins will face Saturday night has an offense that ranks tied for fifth-last in the NHL in scoring with 40 goals.
But it’s where the Coyotes are getting a disproportionate number of those goals that might be alarming. Through the first month-plus of the season, Arizona has gotten ridiculous offensive production while short-handed.
In 14 games, the Coyotes have nine short-handed goals: a total that by far leads the NHL. No other team has more than two. For perspective, only two teams in the league had more than that all of last season.
The Coyotes are on pace for 52 short-handed goals this season.
“That’s a lot of short-handed goals,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said after practice Friday.
“It was one of the things we talked about with our power play today about is making sure that we have a heightened awareness when they’re on the ice,” Sullivan said moments earlier. “They’ve got a lot of team speed, and that can be part of it.”
Only two teams have given up more short-handed goals than the Penguins’ three, a number that matches how many they gave up all of last season.
Captain Sidney Crosby said the only antidote is simple: execution on the power play.
“If you make plays that aren’t there and you force things, you’re giving teams a chance to go the other way,” Crosby said. “And I just think our mentality going out there. We have to have a work ethic that’s there and if it’s there, our skill will take over. Sometimes you can rely on your skill and hope that it kind of happens, and when that happens you give up chances going the other way.”
Oddly, the Coyotes have more short-handed goals this season than they have power-play goals (seven).
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at [email protected] or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.