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Battle of the Bottom Feeders

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The Arizona Coyotes look to rebound from their 2-1 loss to the Florida Panthers with a trip to Raleigh to face off against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sport

The Coyotes have not had a very good start to this season.  They looked good in their game against the Los Angeles, and they have looked downright bad in almose every other game, like against the Winnipeg Jets, St. Louis Blues, and Tampa Bay Lightning.  If they are going to be successful they need to develop some consistency and the best place to start is against another team that has had an awful start, the Carolina Hurricanes.

Matchup at a Glance


Arizona Coyotes

Carolina Hurricanes

Points

7 (7th Pacific) 2 (8th Metro)

Goals Per Game

2.44 (24th)

1.88 (28th)

Goals Against Per Game

3.67 (29th)

3.88 (30th)

Power Play Percentage

26.5 (2nd)

19.2 (16th)

Penalty Kill Percentage

80 (Tied for 18th)

79.3 (Tied for 21st)

5 on 5 Fenwick For Percentage *

50.45 (15th)

49.36 (20th)

PDO*

92.26(29th)

91.84(30th)

*Courtesy of War on Ice

View from Arizona

The Coyotes weren't terrible in their last game against the Florida Panthers, but some problems are still very evident. The biggest problem for the team right now is that they are having major problems scoring 5 on 5 and with the current lineup it isn't likely that that will change anytime soon.

In addition to lack of scoring inconsistency remains a huge problem for the Yotes.  The defense has been okay some games but terrible others.  Goaltending has been good one game but terrible the next game.

Based off the past few games if the Coyotes allow the other team to score two goals they are in a lot of trouble.  So far the Coyotes have only won one game when they allowed more than 2 goals, and that was against the Edmonton Oilers back when they were terrible.

The clear example is the two games against the Florida Panthers, one they won 2-1, one they lost 1-2.  If the Coyotes are going to continue to struggle on offense they are going to need to be near perfect on defense to have any chance in games.

View from Carolina

If you thought the Coyotes were having a bad start to the season, well you would be right. But surprisingly Carolina is having a worse start.  With fewer points than the lowly Buffalo Sabres, the Hurricanes have yet to win a game this season, the only team with that distinction.  Although with the draft being what it is this year, being the worst team may turn out to be a blessing in disguise for the Hurricanes.

Perhaps one of the biggest contributing factors to the Hurricanes' slow start was the fact that they have largely been without their Captain Eric Staal for most of their games.  Staal returned for the Canes' 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks and had a primary assist on the Hurricanes' lone goal.

While it remains to be seen what actually happens there are reports that Alexander Semin will be a healthy scratch for tonight's game.  Semin is one of the Hurricanes' highest paid players but he has yet to score a goal yet.

Keys to the Game

The power play. As previously said the Coyotes are not good at generating offense even strength, making the power play even more important.

Goaltending. If you ignore the Tampa Bay Lightning game Mike Smith has been much better as of late.  He has allowed 2 or less goals in 3 of his past 5 games and even in losses to the Panthers and Wild he didn't look that bad.  But until the Yotes start scoring he is going to need to play great every game.

Defense. Going along with the need for great goaltending the Coyotes need to have solid defense until they start scoring consistently.  Unfortunately that has been a problem, but maybe the solution is a team that has struggled to generate offense.

Who's Hot

Martin Hanzal has been fairly productive for the Coyotes since his return from a lower body injury.  He had the Coyotes lone goal in the game against the Florida Panthers by redirecting Oliver Ekman-Larsson's shot, and he had an assist against the Lightning.

Jiri Tlusty is currently leading the Hurricanes in goals and points this year.  He had a hat trick early on against the New York Islanders and he had points in the Hurricane's last two games will a goal against the Canucks and an assist against the Edmonton Oilers.

Injury Report

The Coyotes are still missing David Moss who did not make the road trip.

Nathan Gerbe and Patrick Dwyer had both previously missed games with day to day injuries but are expected to return for tonight's game.  Jordan Staal is expected to be for 3-4 months with a broken fibula from September.

Puck Drop

Its another early game for the Coyotes, although thankfully not a weekday this time.  Puck will drop 4PM Arizona time and can be seen on Fox Sports Arizona Plus and heard on KTAR News 92.3 FM.