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|Posted: Thu Aug 09, 2018 1:36 am Post subject: an Francisco Giants.
|The Arizona Coyotes were one of the NHL’s best teams the final two months of the 2017-18 season http://www.jetsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-trenton-cannon-jersey , playing the kind of hockey coach Rick Tocchet envisioned his first season in the desert.
If only they had started rolling a few months earlier.
Plagued by the worst start in franchise history, the Coyotes finished last in the Western Conference and missed the playoffs for the sixth straight season, yet they have a glimmer of hope for the future thanks to their flourish to the finish.
”There’s a lot of good positive things and we just have to keep pushing the pedal. We can’t stand pat,” Tocchet said. ”We can’t pat ourselves on the back, `Hey, we had a great second half.’ We’re still one of the bottom teams, which is reality, but saying that I thought we made a lot of strides.”
The Coyotes made dramatic changes in hopes of ending their postseason-less run. Arizona parted ways with coach Dave Tippett and replaced him with Tocchet. Longtime captain Shane Doan’s contract was not renewed, No. 1 goalie Mike Smith was traded to Calgary and the Coyotes brought in a new group of players they hoped would lead the franchise out of its rut.
Antti Raanta became the new top goalie, defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson was added to shore up the defense and Derek Stepan was expected to be the top-line center the team had sought for years.
Little went according to plan. Raanta missed the first seven games with a lower-body injury and the Coyotes had trouble holding on to leads – when they could get them – and opened the season 1-12-1. Arizona could not escape the deep early hole Oren Burks Color Rush Jersey , laboring at the bottom of the NHL standings throughout the first half of the season.
The Coyotes started to click after the All-Star break. Raanta was healthy and stopping shots. The defense, a detriment early, tightened up. The offense, led by a core of young scorers, started to flow instead of sputter.
Arizona went 17-9-3 over its final 29 games, finishing 29-41-12 with 70 points. The Coyotes were still last in the Pacific Division, but managed to finish ahead of Ottawa and Buffalo among the league’s bottom dwellers.
”I’ve got all the confidence in this group,” said Stepan, who had 14 goals and was second on the team with 56 points. ”They’ve learned a lot this season and you’ve got to be able to carry that over into next season and continue to learn, and the older guys got to learn from the younger guys. It’s got to be a balanced group.”
RAANTA’S RIDE: Raanta had a rough ride his first season as a No. 1 goalie Christian Kirk Color Rush Jersey , battling through separate injuries. Once he was healthy, the Finnish goalie played like the Coyotes had hoped he would after trading for him from the New York Rangers.
Raanta finished the season 21-17-6 with a 2.24 goals-against average and a save percentage of .930. He was scheduled to become a restricted free agent this offseason, but the Coyotes locked him up for the next three years with a $12.75 million contract just before the season ended.
”He stops the puck,” Coyotes GM John Chayka said. ”He just seems to, when he’s on, he’s locked in and he’s reading everything and making the game look easy. You put up his numbers both this season and over his career, he’s a high, high-end goaltender in terms of stopping the puck.”
KELLER’S RISE: Clayton Keller got his rookie season off to a sizzling start, went through a dry scoring spell and finished strong to put himself in the Calder Trophy conversation.
The No. 7 overall pick in the 2016 draft was the NHL’s leading rookie scorer during the season’s first month with nine goals and 15 assists before going 17 games without a goal into December. Keller closed strong with six goals and 15 assists in March and April, finishing with 23 goals and 65 points to lead the Coyotes in both categories.
SIGNING OEL: One of the Coyotes’ top offseason priorities will be trying to sign All-Star defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson as he heads into the last year of his contract.
Once thought to be a trade target during Arizona’s rebuilding process Justin Reid Color Rush Jersey , the Finnish defenseman remained a core player for the Coyotes, finishing fourth on the team with 42 points. He wants to stay in the desert and the Coyotes want him, so it’s a matter of coming to terms.
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NEW YORK — The Los Angeles Dodgers aren’t currently occupying a playoff spot, but manager Dave Roberts spoke confidently Wednesday about playing in the postseason. New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway, on the other hand, is beginning to sound like a skipper who knows his team will be long forgotten by October.
Two teams headed in opposite directions will square off for the first time this season Friday night when the Mets host the Dodgers in the opener of a three-game series at Citi Field.
Right-hander Zack Wheeler (2-5, 4.82 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for the Mets against Dodgers left-hander Alex Wood (2-5, 4.22).
Both teams are coming off series-deciding losses. The Mets suffered their third straight defeat Thursday when they fell to the host Colorado Rockies 6-4 in the finale of a four-game set. The visiting Dodgers were off Thursday after losing to the Chicago Cubs 4-0 in the last game of a three-game series Wednesday afternoon.
The series loss was the first in 10 series for the Dodgers (38-35), who are 21-9 since dropping two of three to the Miami Marlins from May 15 to May 17. The hot streak vaulted them from fourth place in the National League West to second place during the surge and gained 5 1/2 games on the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks, who hold a 2 1/2 game lead heading into Friday’s action.
In addition http://www.eaglesauthorizedshops.com/authentic-paul-worrilow-jersey , Los Angeles has moved two games behind the Washington Nationals in the race for the second NL wild card.
The Dodgers did all this despite getting little to no contributions from stars such as Justin Turner, Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill, all of whom have been on the disabled list for the last five weeks, and Cody Bellinger, who has struggled most of the season. No wonder Roberts sounded so confident after Wednesday’s loss.
“We’re going to be somewhere in October,” Roberts told reporters. “I can’t speak to the opponent, but we’re going to be somewhere.”
It will take a miracle for the Mets (31-41) to be anywhere but a golf course when the playoffs begin. New York, which has lost 40 of 60 since an 11-1 start, is 11 1/2 games out of first place in the NL East and 8 1/2 games back in the wild-card race.
The Mets’ slide has been marked by extreme highs and lows on both sides of the ball. They have scored 42 runs in the last six games, a span in which the pitching staff posted a 5.14 ERA.
New York scored just 42 runs in 17 games from May 28 through June 15 http://www.buccaneersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-m.j.-stewart-jersey , during which its pitchers posted a 4.13 ERA.
“There’s no magic pill or magic wand to make everything sync up at the same time,” Callaway told reporters Thursday afternoon. “I think that’s been the tale of our season so far. Even when we’re not winning games, we have a part of us that’s going good. We just have trouble getting (everything) to sync up at the same time so we can get on a good run again.”
Wheeler didn’t factor into the decision in his most recent start on Sunday, when he gave up two runs in six innings as the Mets beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-3. Wood won the last time he took the mound last Saturday when he allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings in the Dodgers’ 3-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants.
Wheeler lost his lone career start against the Dodgers on June 19, 2017, when he surrendered seven runs in two innings as the Mets fell 10-6. Wood is 0-3 with a 3.94 ERA in eight career starts against the Mets.