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Coyotes Domingue Trending Up After San Jose Win

Coyotes Domingue Trending Up After San Jose Win

After a strong performance in his rookie season with Arizona, goaltender Louis Domingue was thrust back into a starting role again just two games into his 2016-17 campaign in the desert.

Things didn’t start off as well as he would have liked; a sub .800 save percentage in his first game was followed up by a performance that saw him pulled in favor of AHL call-up Justin Peters.

Last year saw Domingue fall into a similar rut at one point in the season, though. And like last year, the 24-year-old netminder managed to pull himself out and put up increasingly improved performances.

A 39-save win over the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday could be the start of the same this year.

What he did right

Sometimes, the easiest way to evaluate a goaltender is to look at how he plays within a system he’s supposed to be executing. For Domingue, that meant a lot of defensive zone faceoffs last night.

He handled those well.

“We were talking in the locker room,” Domingue told InGoal after the game, “And we were doing well in the faceoff dot so we decided that I’d try to give the team as many opportunities to take those as possible. It worked.”

Coyotes goaltending coach Jon Elkin preaches saves, not blocks, and sure enough that was a theme throughout Domingue’s night in Glendale on Tuesday.

Take a look:

This first save might be my favorite of the night, from either Domingue or Martin Jones at the other end of the ice.

Faced down with a two-on-one for San Jose (not counting the backchecking Tobias Rieder or Alex Goligoski, who stayed behind the breakout through to the shot), Domingue tracks the play in without retreating too quickly, a smart choice, particularly given his penchance to play deep.

When the Sharks arrive and take a shot, he allows a rebound on the first attempt but quickly repositions himself to face a second shot, which ultimately comes off the skate of Sharks forward Tommy Wingels.

On that shot, Domingue makes it his ultimate goal to protect the puck; he traps it under his glove, then pivots to shoulder away pressure from Chris Tierney with his blocker.

It kept the ensuing faceoff in Arizona’s zone, but as mentioned above that was intentional; the team felt confident enough in their abilities within the circle to allow Domingue to make that kind of stop with confidence.

Here’s another example:

This save, on Arizona’s penalty kill, came just a few minutes before the one shown first.

Here Domingue stays with the puck as the Sharks pass it around the net and attempt to box the Arizona skaters in. He makes the right judgement call on Boedker’s pass (where there could have easily been a shot attempt) and follows the puck to the “Royal Road” or “slot line,” where he uses his depth to pressure the Sharks into shooting and then smothers the puck with a full body save. It’s not his prettiest stop of the night, but it’s one of the most crucial; if San Jose scores there, the game likely ends quite differently.

Looking ahead

The Coyotes may have placed too much faith in veteran starter Mike Smith, who remains out with a lower body injury, to be the difference-maker in any potential playoff runs, but he remains their best option in net, at least for the time being. Domingue is unproven over a full season, and heir apparent Adin Hill is still getting his feet under him in Tucson (albeit behind a very strong Roadrunners roster).

As a result, the team really relies on seeing Smith return to health. It’s hard to look ahead at Domingue and consider what he can do for the team’s playoff hopes, which at the moment seem slimmer than last season.

For now, though, Domingue is No.1 so he’ll need to keep showcasing the abilities he did against San Jose.


About The Author

Cat Silverman

Catherine is the first American in a long line of Canadians, making her the black sheep before she even decided she wasn't going to be a Leafs fan. Writer for Today's Slapshot, InGoal Magazine, and, coach in the Arizona Coyotes Department of Hockey Development. Goalies are not voodoo.