Red-hot Blues host struggling Coyotes
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ST. LOUIS -- The start of this season could not have been more different for the St. Louis Blues and Arizona Coyotes.
While the Blues are off to the best start in their history, the Coyotes will carry the league's worst record into their game against St. Louis on Thursday night.
The Blues (12-3-1) set a franchise record with 12 wins in their first 16 games. Meanwhile, the Coyotes (2-13-2) are still looking for their first regulation victory, with their only wins coming in overtime and in a shootout.
The results of their head-to-head games in recent years also have been one-sided. The Blues have won their past 11 meetings with the Coyotes, with Arizona's most recent win coming Nov. 12, 2013.
First-year Arizona coach Rick Tocchet is trying to take a patient approach to the Coyotes' performance, looking for small ways that the team can improve.
"Been here a couple months and one thing I noticed, I don't want us to be a perimeter team," Tocchet told NHL.com after the Coyotes' most recent loss, 3-1 to the Penguins on Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. "You have to go to the net. You have to be good along the walls. That's something that we as an organization, we have to get better at. I have to teach it better because you can't win in this league unless you have people that go to the net or you win battles along the wall."
The one positive for the Coyotes has been the play of 19-year-old rookie Clayton Keller, who has scored 11 goals and contributed six assists. Only one other player on the team has scored more than three goals.
Keller, a St. Louis-area native, and was the Coyotes' top pick in the 2016 draft. He made his NHL debut in his hometown March 27, 2016, but did not score. So far this season, he has at least one point in 12 of Arizona's 17 games.
The Blues' success has been built on contributions from every facet of the team -- getting scoring from their top lines as well as defensemen and solid goaltending from the combination of Jake Allen and backup Carter Hutton.
The top line of Vladimir Tarasenko, Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz has quickly developed into one of the top combinations in the league, with Schenn recording seven points in his past two games (one goal and six assists).
Schenn had a goal and two assists Tuesday night as the Blues won 3-1 at New Jersey, with Tarasenko and Schwartz scoring the other two goals.
"Each night, it's someone that's getting the job done for us," Schenn said. "We're working in five-man units, we're working as a team, and that results in winning hockey."
The Blues' success has only increased the players' desire to see those positive results continue.
"The guys in the room are really enjoying what we are doing and what we are accomplishing," St. Louis center Kyle Brodziak said. "Everybody feels like they are part of it. It's good when you see results like we are seeing. It gives guys confidence and motivation to keep doing what we are doing."
Updated November 9, 2017