Michael Bunting’s Fall from Grace in Contract Year and the Bright Future of Playoff Defense Pairings and Promising Power Play
As the final days of the regular season approach, Michael Bunting’s stock is in perilously declining condition. The Arizona Coyotes winger, who is set to become a restricted free agent this summer, has seen his ice time drop considerably this season and has gone nearly a month without a point. Despite having a career-high 10 goals and 20 points in the shortened 2019-20 season, Bunting’s play this season has been a major disappointment.
However, all is not lost for the Coyotes, as their playoff defense pairings appear to be improving at just the right time. Led by the emergence of Jakob Chychrun as a top-pairing defenseman, the Coyotes have seen a marked improvement on the blue line in recent weeks. The team has gone 6-2-2 in their last 10 games and have allowed just 2.6 goals per game in that span. This has been a major factor in their resurgence in the standings and could be a huge boost to the team if they make the playoffs.
In addition to the improved defense, the Coyotes’ power play has been a bright spot in recent weeks. After an abysmal start to the season, the Coyotes’ power play unit has seen an uptick in production and is now ranked 10th in the league with a 19.3% success rate. With the likes of Taylor Hall, Phil Kessel, and Conor Garland leading the charge, the Coyotes’ power play looks primed for a postseason run.
Michael Bunting’s declining stock in a contract year has been a major cause for concern among Coyotes fans. But the team has been buoyed by the improved play of their defense and the effectiveness of their power play. If these two aspects of the game continue to improve, the Coyotes could be a dangerous team come playoff time. With a strong defense and a dangerous power play, the Coyotes have the potential to make a deep postseason run. So while Bunting’s stock may be in a slump, the Coyotes have plenty of reasons to be optimistic.