— Mark McClune (@MarkMcClune) November 13, 2019
Arizona Coyotes Defeated Cup Champs
When the Coyotes looked over their 2019-20 schedule they had to notice that they were going to face both the Capitals and Blues in back-to-back games in November… on the road.
Not only is that a huge undertaking, but it also meant that they had to face both teams while they were on hot winning streaks. The Capitals had gone 11 straight games obtaining a point or more in the standings, including six consecutive victories. They were on a roll.
They fell behind the upstart Coyotes 3-0 before making a comeback to tie the game at 3-3. It appeared that they had actually taken the lead with about one minute remaining when a goal by T.J. Oshie was negated when the Coyotes bench disputed that the play was offside. The goal was reversed and the teams battled in overtime without a result.
Shootout Victory For Arizona
The inevitable shootout was next. First up for Coyotes was sharpshooter Nick Schmaltz and he scored with a quick wrist shot. The Capitals could not get one past goalie Antti Raanta. Conor Garland was the next shooter and he almost nonchalantly placed one by Caps’ rookie netminder Ilya Samsonov to grab the two points.
On to St. Louis
Next up, the Desert Dogs had to travel to St. Louis to face the Cup champs from last season. Again, the Blues were red-hot with seven straight wins going into the game. Clayton Keller scored his second consecutive goal to help the cause. And, all of a sudden Garland has taken over the goal-scoring lead with eight tallies this season.
So, this game also ended up in a tie after regulation. Overtime did not decide this game either. Shootout again.
When you find players who are adept at scoring in the shootout, you tend to stay with them. That is exactly what head coach Rick Tocchet did. He repeated the same shootout lineup with Schmaltz filling the net and then the spunky Garland following up with another easy tally past Jordan Binnington.
What This Means For The Coyotes
If nothing else, it’s got to be a confidence booster for the team. The Coyotes actually defeated two Cup champs. Defeating the last two Cup champs back-to-back is not an easy task and they now have done exactly that. When you also look at the strategy of a shootout and who do you put out on the ice at that point of the game, we now know that Schmaltz and Garland can be your one-two punch. They have not only stepped up big time to give the team a boost, but they have also made it look easy.
There can be turning points in a game, and turning points in a season. This could very well be the latter. These two straight wins can be a building point for the team and show them that they can beat any team any night.
Winning games like these build character. Winning games like these get you to the playoffs and beyond. This is still a young team trying to make their way back to the postseason and if they can play more games like these, they will find their way.
One thing is certain… Schmaltz and Garland have got to be the first two guys you call to the ice when your team is in a shootout. They’ve proved that.