The Coyotes continued their prolonged stretch of subpar hockey by dropping a 3-0 game on the road against Carolina Saturday night, giving the Hurricanes their first win of the season. The game was not as one-sided as the stats would suggest, but the better team did win in PNC Arena. As the losses pile up, it is becoming harder and harder to find silver linings with the Coyotes' play. The road-trip finishes with a visit to Alex Ovechkin's Washington Capitals tonight, who will also be looking to end a three-game losing streak.
Matchup at a Glance
|Arizona Coyotes (3-6-1)||Washington Capitals (4-4-2)|
|Points (Standing)||7 (7th Pacific)||10 (5th Metropolitan)|
|Goals per game||2.4 (23rd)||2.9 (11th)|
|Goals against per game||3.7 (29th)||2.3 (10th)|
|Power play percentage||26.5 (2nd)||24.2 (5th)|
|Penalty kill percentage||80 (18th)||79.4 (20th)|
|Even strength Fenwick for*||50.45 (15th)||54.38 (5th)|
|PDO*||92.26 (29th)||100.80 (11th)|
View from Arizona
The Coyotes were not in the Connor McDavid sweepstakes entering this season, but this week has been grueling for Dave Tippett's team. The Coyotes have been out-scored 12-4 on their three-game losing streak and have only won one game in regulation throughout the whole season.
Mike Smith has returned to resembling something like an actual NHL goaltender. Since being benched for Devan Dubnyk for the Nashville start, Smith has a .904 save percentage. That is still far from where it needs to be, but the defense in front of him has left him to dry on too many occasions.
Offensive struggles have also plagued the team this season. Outside of the 7-4 Edmonton win, Arizona has not scored more than three goals in a game this season. The Coyotes have been particularly awful at even strength, getting outscored 25-12 in 5-on-5 play. Both totals are in the bottom five in the NHL. The league's second best power play unit is nothing to scoff at, but the Coyotes need to win some even strength battles if they want to be competitive down the stretch.
View from Washington
The Capitals are facing a rough stretch of their own. After starting the season 3-0-2, Washington has gone 1-4-0 over their last five games, including Saturday night's loss to Tampa Bay. Although the Caps currently sit outside the Eastern Conference playoff bubble, they sport a better goal differential than six of the teams ahead of them in points. The season is young, but Washington is in a good spot despite having a rough patch as of late.
New head coach Barry Trotz has his team playing competitive hockey though; the Capitals have out-shot their opposition in eight out of their ten games so far this season. They also have not lost a game by more than two goals.
Alex Ovechkin has been slow by his standards this season with only six points (5 goals and 1 assist) through ten games, including a career-high five-game pointless streak snapped Saturday night. By comparison, the Washington captain had 10 goals and five assists for 15 points through his first ten games last season. An explosion toward the mean may be imminent for the Russian star.
Keys to the Game
Shoot the puck - Arizona is 3-2-1 when outshooting the opposition, compared to 0-4-0 when getting outshot. It's not some arcane secret - generate more offense than the opponent and hope the bounces go your way.
No penalties - Washington employs one of the league's deadlier power plays. Keep them from being a factor; don't commit bad penalties.
Help the goalie - Whether it is Mike Smith of Devan Dubnyk in net, Arizona needs to help their goalie out and play sound hockey in front of him. That hasn't happened often enough this season. Even the best goalies struggle without a solid unit in front of them.
Keith Yandle has been the best player for the Coyotes this season, no question. He leads the team with nine points, but it has been his defense that has been the gamebreaker. He has nine blocked shots over the past two games, by far the team lead over that span.
For the Caps, defenseman Mike Green has been Arizona's Keith Yandle. He leads the team with eight points and a plus-six on the season. Where he differs from Yandle, though: only one of his points are with the man advantage, compared to Yandle's eight of nine.
Coyotes forward Dave Moss remains on the disabled list with an upper body injury.
For Washington, center Brooks Laich and defenseman John Erskine are listed as out for Sunday night's tilt.
Puck will drop at 5 p.m. Arizona time at the Verizon Center in D.C. The game can be seen on Fox Sports Arizona and heard on KTAR.