The first month of the NHL season is officially over. The Phoenix Coyotes capped off the month of October with a 3-2 shootout victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Halloween night. With the win they improved their overall record to an impressive 9-4.
There are few reasons why the Coyotes are off to such a great start. The first reason is they are getting spectacular goal tending from Ilya Brzgalov. He currently has a goals against average of 1.78, a save percentage of .930 and three shutouts. These are even better numbers then in Bryzgalov's first season with the Coyotes, a season in which he carried the team on his back.
A good reason that Bryzgalov is playing so well could be the fact that he has a new goal-tending coach in former Coyotes goaltender Sean Burke. Another reason is that the Coyotes defensemen are playing much better in front of Bryzgalov this season.
The offseason acquisitions of Adrian Aucoin and Jim Vandermeer have turned out to be great. They have both added depth and veteran leadership to the Coyotes defensive corps, something they were desperately lacking last year.
Sami Lepisto has stepped in and has played well for the injured Kurt Sauer, who is currently out of the lineup with a head injury. Keith Yandle has continued to be great offensively for the Coyotes while not being as much of a defensive liability as last season.
Ed Jovanovski is playing the best hockey of his career. He is currently tied with Shane Doan for the team lead in points with ten. Zbynek Michalek is playing solid as usual, continuing to block shot after shot.
Offensively, the Coyotes are getting production from all four forward lines. None of the Coyotes players are lighting up the league, but they are producing at key times. One of the biggest offensive surprises for the Coyotes may be the early chemistry that is being shown between Vernon Fiddler and Dan Winnik. The two have been on fire lately for the Coyotes.
With all the positives there are still a couple of negatives to talk about from the first month. Sophomore forward Mikkel Boedker failed to live up to expectations and was sent to the minors. His lack of offensive production can be mostly blamed on the lack of ice time he got. Boedker will get more playing time with San Antonio so it will help him improve as a player.
Peter Mueller is off to another slow start with only two assists through 12 games. The minors could also be an option for him,as there is a lot of hungry players in the San Antonio who would love to take his spot in the Coyotes lineup.
If the Coyotes are able to continue their winning ways into the month of November they could be very well on their to their first playoff appearance in seven years.