The season is winding down, but that does not mean the Coyotes are. After a disappointing loss to the Sharks in San Jose on Friday night, the ‘Yotes came back with a vengeance and got the win in Arizona on Saturday. In their 5-3 win over the San Jose, Arizona was able to break their eight game home losing streak, and get their first regulation win at home since January 8th.
OEL continues to shine
Oliver Ekman-Larsson has been breaking personal and team records all season long. In Saturday nights matchup, ‘OEL’ notched two goals which tied him with Phil Housley for the single-season franchise record of 23 goals in a season by a defenseman. 23 goals in one season by a 23 year old defenseman. The young Swede is remarkable.
“I’ve been saying for a while that he’s a special player, I don’t really think there’s too many people in the league I would trade him for,” said Shane Doan on Ekman-Larsson this season. “He’s our best offensive player and our best defensive player, he’s special and it’s disappointing he doesn’t get respect nationally that I think he deserves but what he’s doing this year obviously speaks for itself.”
Even though he had a rough start to his season after putting on some extra weight in the offseason, the 6’2″ d-man has surely redeemed himself. Shane Doan is surely right in saying that Ekman-Larsson has not been given the recognition that he deserves. His talent in the offensive zone is unreal. There is a reason why he leads not only his team in goals, but also the entire National Hockey League. His humble way of looking at his season, makes him just that much more respectable.
If this isn’t some optimism for the Coyotes future, then I don’t know what is.
“I just try to play my best every night and try to get better. It’s nice to get a winner tonight. Don’t expect me to score 23 goals every year,” said Ekman-Larsson. When asked about the possibility of scoring 30, he responded with a coy, “that’s not going to happen. I’m just happy to score some goals and I’m just going to try to keep shooting; see if I can find a couple more here.”
Mike Smith: player of the month
The month of March was incredible for Mike Smith. Smith had a .934 save percentage with 12 starts in March, and it is no surprise that the Coyotes named him the player of the month. He had multiple games with over 40 saves, and he carried that into April. He made 42 saves against San Jose and allowed 3 goals, but the offense was able to make up for the goals and never lose the lead.
Unfortunate loss for the Sharks
With Saturday night’s loss, the Sharks are now five points back from the Los Angeles Kings for a wildcard spot. With three games to play for both San Jose and Los Angeles, the likelihood of them earning the coveted spot decreased drastically after Saturday’s game.
“When you are in a situation like ours, you never want losing to become accepted. When your top players come in tonight, and we didn’t play very well last night. There was a lot of pride in there and it was great to see our young leadership tonight,” said head coach Dave Tippett. “We are playing for pride right now and playing against a desperate team, I thought we played well.”