The Coyotes were officially eliminated from the post-season Thursday evening against the Dallas Stars, but even in defeat Arizona was able to give fans a reason to be hopeful for what’s to come in the next few seasons.
Late in the first period of Thursday’s game, Coyotes rookie Max Domi chipped the puck out of the Arizona end and onto the stick of Martin Hanzal to start a rush up ice. Upon getting the puck in the neutral zone, Hanzal moved the puck to rookie Anthony Duclair, and it was Duclair who made the game’s opening goal — and the only tally the Coyotes would score on the night — a beauty.
After picking the puck up while skating backward, Duclair pivoted, toe-dragged the puck around Stars defenseman Johnny Oduya and then made a smooth backhand pass to Domi, who wasted no time firing the puck right back into the middle of the ice onto the tape of Hanzal for an easy tap-in. The look on Domi’s face during the goal celebration says it all:
Domi looks shocked at what happened, as if this might be the greatest play in the history of hockey. That would be a big stretch, but it’s up there with the nicest plays the Coyotes have made in the 2015-16 campaign. It’s fitting that two of the key cogs in making the play happen were Domi and Duclair, the rookie duo who have given Arizona’s fans something to cheer about.
Following Thursday’s game, Domi, 21, has 18 goals and 49 points and sits second on the Coyotes in scoring in his freshman campaign, and Duclair ranks fourth on the Coyotes with 19 goals and 43 points in 76 outings. That both Domi and Duclair are scoring at top-six rates in their first full seasons makes it hard to imagine we’re not looking at the future faces of the organization.
The rebuild doesn’t stop at Domi and Duclair, either. As soon as next season, the Coyotes could also add Dylan Strome and Christian Dvorak to the big league roster, and the youth movement will be in full effect.