ERIC FRANCIS, CALGARY SUN
The way Dave Tippett sees it, Max Domi and his fellow rookies have given the Arizona Coyotes much more than just a boatload of points this season.
He’s given them hope.
“Both he and (Anthony) Duclair have put up some points, but if you look at our whole rookie core — Domi, Duclair, (Jordan) Martinook, (Klas) Dahlbeck and now the goalie (Louis) Domingue — they are young players who are good players that have given our team energy,” said the Coyotes head coach, whose squad enters Thursday’s divisional showdown at the Dome in the most unlikely of playoff spots in the west.
“We needed that shot of energy coming out of last year. You see it in players like Shane Doan, who is having fun out there. These kids are fun. They’re giving us not just points and ability but they’ve given our organization a new outlook.”
At a time of year when the Coyotes have traditionally solidified a spot near the basement of the west, Doan has seven goals in the Coyotes’ last four games, pacing the club to a second-place standing in the Pacific Division with a 19-16-4 record.
Domi has 10 goals and 28 points in 39 games, while Duclair has 11 goals and 20 points. Both 20-year-olds have been in the Calder Trophy discussion from the outset, even though both players’ production has slowed of late.
Domi hasn’t scored in 13 outings, amassing only five assists in that time, begging questions about whether he’s going through the rough patch most rookies endure when trying to keep pace in a demanding 82-game schedule.
“There have been times when he’s dipped a little bit, but I think you put an over-emphasis on rookies because there’s a lot of veteran players who dip for a game or two as well,” Tippett said.
“Everyone talks about being a rookie in the second half and how it’s where you get the real test” added Domi, the Coyotes 12th-pick overall in the 2013 NHL Draft.
“It’s an awesome group of guys here and I learn something new every day from the older players, coaching staff or trainers. It’s been a fun ride and first-class all the way. Now it starts for real and hopefully we can get to the dance and make something happen from there.”
Domingue, 23, is the latest youngster to contribute in a big way, going undefeated in six starts since filling in for the injured Mike Smith.