Ingram Earning the Net in Arizona

Photo By AP Photo/Sue Ogrock/APMedia

Going into this season, no one knew exactly what kind of team the Arizona Coyotes were going to be.

Given the fact that they play in an unbelievably Central Division with the likes of the Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Winnipeg Jets, the St. Louis Blues, and now the charging Minnesota Wild, most hockey pundits and fans alike figured that they are not going to make the playoffs this season. Given the team’s history of missing the postseason, that is a pretty safe assumption to make.

With all of that said, however, the Coyotes have surprised many so far this season. The team is 12-9-2, which puts them fifth in their division and in the second wild-card spot, just one point behind the Blues.

That is pretty darn impressive. They are a team that plays hard every night, does not give up in games, and understands the way that their head coach, Andre Tourigny, wants them to play.

Believe it or not, their goaltending may be the main reason they are off. No, it is not the play of Karel Vejmelka, the one who was supposed to be the starting goaltender this season, that is carrying the team so far this season.

Rather, it has been the play of Connor Ingram that has sparked the Coyotes’ good start to this season. Ingram, 26, is currently 9-3 with a 2.50 goals-against average, a .926 save percentage, and one shutout.

Ingram had one of the most impressive three-game stretches that a goaltender can have beginning on November 25th and ending on November 30th. This is what Ingram accomplished in those three games:

  • November 25th against the Vegas Golden Knights: 34-save shutout win.
  • November 28th against the Tampa Bay Lightning: Stopped 30 of 31 shots in a win.
  • November 30th against the Colorado Avalanche: Stopped 28 of 31 shouts in a win.

After those big wins over the Golden Knights and Tampa Bay Lightning, both Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong and head coach Tourigny spoke to Arizona Sports about Ingram’s strong play between the pipes.

“Ingram was a brick wall for us in net,” general manager Bill Armstrong told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Thursday. “He loves to play Tampa Bay, we saw that last year with one of the best analytical performances in the history of goaltending ever when we played Tampa Bay and beat them 1-0 (47 saves). He was remarkable in the game this week for us.”

Tourigny agreed with Armstrong’s sentiments.

“People say he improved a lot, he was pretty good then as well,” Tourigny told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke on Wednesday. “We felt really good, that’s why Bill and management, ownership gave him a three-year contract because we really liked the way he played and we believe in his potential as a goalie. If you look at training camp, it was rock solid. So it’s not for me he does something different than he did last year. He was really good last year and is really good this year. For me, it’s consistency in this case.”

As such, it is easy to see that one reason why Ingram is playing so well is because his team believes in him. When you know that your team believes you, not only do you get to play more, but you also play with more confidence, which is something that Ingram is playing with right now.

In that same article linked above, Armstrong mentioned that Ingram is the hot goaltender right now and that because he is playing so well, the team feels more than comfortable giving him the net.

“Sometimes goaltenders get hot at different points of the game and he’s hot right now and we’re gonna roll with him,” Armstrong said. “He’s earned that opportunity. And we’ll see how it goes. You never know, you’re only as good as your last performance and he’s been outstanding. We’ll continue to roll with him and see how it goes and eventually (Vejmelka) will get back in the net and we’ll see what he can do.”

Another reason why Ingram is playing so well this season is because he is seeing the puck well right now. He is doing a great job of controlling rebounds by putting them to the corners, swallowing up pucks, and putting himself in a good position to stop not only the first one but the second and third shots as well.

Because the Coyotes are 25th in the league in shots allowed per game (32.3), the above-mentioned attributes of Ingram’s game have been extremely important in the early going for this Coyotes hockey club. He has had to clean up a lot of messes that the team in front of him causes and while it has not always been pretty, Ingram has usually found a way to come up with the save.

Lastly, Ingram is doing everything he can to show that he belongs in the NHL on a full-time basis. As of this writing, he has 43 career games to his name, so any time he gets the net, he goes out there trying to prove that he is an NHL goaltender.

Right now, Ingram is also battling to be the starting goaltender. He has played 13 games while Vejmelka has played 11.

Vejmelka has played 113 career games and has more experience as a starting goaltender than Ingram. With that said, he has been shaky this season as he is currently 2-6-0-2 with a 3.45 goals-against average and a .892 save percentage. Because of Vejmelka’s struggles, Ingram has gotten more playing time and has certainly earned to get in a lot more games because of how well he has played up to this point.

As such, if Ingram continues to play this way and helps his team win hockey games, expect to see him in more and more hockey games as the season progresses.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
  2. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
  3. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  4. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

Patrick Hoffman

Patrick covers the NHL for Inside The Rink. He has previously covered the league for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave, WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

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