The Arizona Coyotes hope some home cooking will solve their early-season woes.
After opening with an embarrassing 8-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets and showing improvement in a 2-1 shootout loss at the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday, the Coyotes look to take another step forward in Monday’s home opener against the St. Louis Blues in Glendale, Ariz.
“We were much better,” coach Andre Tourigny said of the Buffalo loss. “Off the rush, we were much better, off our neutral zone forecheck, we were much better. We were better on our breakouts. So, there’s a lot of positives, a few things to sort out in our (defensive) zone coverage. A few situations where when we get tired, we were exposed, so we will address that, but I think it’s a positive.”
Speaking of positives, Arizona forward Andrew Ladd’s goal against Buffalo was his first NHL tally since March 10, 2020.
Ladd, a six-time 20-goal scorer with 250 goals in 952 games, spent most of the last two seasons either injured, a healthy scratch or relegated to the minors while he was with the New York Islanders.
Even though the Coyotes are a rebuilding squad, they’re counting on Ladd to be a leader — he’s an alternate captain — and to help develop their young talent.
“It’s been a long road for me, two years,” said Ladd, a two-time Stanley Cup champion and former Winnipeg Jets captain. “Mentally, the last couple of years I think just trying to stay positive and having the goal in mind of coming back to play NHL hockey again.
“To be able to get back to this point and feel that again was a proud moment for myself. Not even just for me, I think my wife and kids and family have been through a lot, and when things aren’t going well on the hockey front, a lot of times they feel that on the home front. That’s definitely for them.”
The Blues opened the season with a 5-3 road win over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday but weren’t elated with their performance. St. Louis led 4-1 midway through the third period, but needed an empty-net goal in the final minute to secure the victory.
“We had a real good first period. We came out, we were on our toes and got a lead,” coach Craig Berube said. “We just kind of lost our energy a little bit in the second period and we fed their transition game, kind of got on our heels a little bit. The third period was mixed for me.”
Ladd wasn’t the only veteran who made a big mark in his team’s game. Blues forward David Perron was a game-time decision after missing practices leading up to Saturday’s game due to an undisclosed injury, but scored twice to lead the attack.
“I’ve never taken so much heat (from teammates) for taking the time I needed to play today,” Perron said. “I had to score one at least.
“It’ll probably take a little bit to feel back to where I want it to be, but it was good I was able to get out there and contribute a little bit.”
–Field Level Media