Thursday was a rollercoaster day for the Arizona Coyotes and their fans. If it wasn't one breaking story regarding the roster cutdowns it was another story about possible ownership changes for the franchise. While the reaction (and let's be honest, overreaction in quite a few cases) is understandable, today the focus rightfully returns to the ice. The Coyotes will complete their preseason preparations at home against the San Jose Sharks in the exhibition finale.
Matchup at a Glance
|Arizona Coyotes||San Jose Sharks|
|Goals for||2.56 (20th)||2.92 (6th)|
|Goals against||2.73 (18th)||2.35 (5th)|
|Power Play %||19.9 (4th)||17.2 (20th)|
|Penalty kill %||79.0 (26th)||84.9 (6th)|
|5v5 Fenwick for %||50.0(16th)||54.6 (3rd)|
|PDO (shooting % plus sv %)||100.3 (10th)||99.8 (18th)|
|Points||89 (4th Pacific)||111 (2nd Pacific)|
The View from Arizona
The expected regular season roster came much closer to finalizing for the Coyotes on Thursday afternoon with the cutdowns that included the remaining members of the freshman five. Now that Max Domi is back to junior hockey, Lucas Lessio, Tobias Rieder and Brandon Gormley have returned to Portland, the picture has become much clearer. Justin Hodgeman's preseason surge more than likely led to the cutdown of one if not both of Lessio and Reider and GMDM may have decided to use Gormley's ability to go to Portland without waivers over exposing one of Chris Summers or David Schlemko to that process.
It's the last opportunity for the coaching staff to make any last second adjustments and decisions, including but not limited to the following:
- Who will line up on Martin Hanzal's left wing (with Martin Erat all but a lock on the right)?
- Will Sam Gagner stick at center or be moved to the wing to hide his shortcomings?
- Who will center the third unit if not Gagner?
- Is Connor Murphy the heir apparent on Keith Yandle's right side?
- Who holds down the third d-man pairing between Michael Stone, Matt Smaby, Summers and Schlemko?
It may be a game that does not count in the standings, but it is far from being an unimportant contest for the Desert Dogs.
The View from San Jose
The Sharks are not quite ready to wrap up the preseason as they will travel from Arizona to Anaheim to conclude the non-counting portion of the schedule on Saturday.
The Sharks are down to 30 men on the roster, so there may still be some players in tonight's game that will not be a part of the Sharks in this season, including 2014 first round pick Nikolay Goldobin.
One player hoping to make his final impact is Mirco Mueller, the Sharks 2013 first rounder. The Swiss born defenseman is hoping to make the team and a strong performance against the Coyotes could propel him to his first NHL action this season.
Keys to the Game
- Find what works. The Coyotes need to put the finishing touches on what should be their ideal regular season debut lineup. While it may not be a youth movement like many were hoping for, tonight is the last chance to tinker with the details before things count.
- Don't get hurt. Preseason injuries are the worst. Just ask Flyers fans.
- Patience. This one is not aimed at the players as much as the fans. Yesterday's news made many of us edgy and anxious. Let's wait to pass judgment until we see what happens when the games actually count.
Mikkel Boedker found the net for the first time in the preseason last game against Edmonton as did the Colonel, Rob Klinkhammer, who tallied a shorthanded goal in the 3-2 loss to the Oilers.
The Sharks have not played since a 4-1 loss to the Kings on Tuesday, but they had to like seeing the top line of Thornton, Marleau and Hertl clicking for a goal on that night.
The Coyotes enter the game with no major injuries to report.
The Sharks will be without the services of former Coyote Raffi Torres for another few months after knee surgery.
The final warm up for the games that do count for the Yotes will start at 7 p.m. Arizona time at Gila River Arena.