Losing is not fun. Losing when you should have won is even less fun.
The Arizona Coyotes blew a 3-0 lead against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night, and as punishment had to stew on it for the past four days. Tonight against the Calgary Flames, the Coyotes will get a chance to prove they know how to play with a lead.
Matchup at a Glance
|Calgary Flames||Arizona Coyotes|
|Points||30 (3rd Pacific)||21 (6th Pacific)|
|Goals Per Game||3.00 (T-5th)||2.39 (24th)|
|Goals Against Per Game||2.62 (17th)||3.04 (25th)|
|Power Play Percentage||20.7% (11th)||19.5 (T-14th)|
|Penalty Kill Percentage||74.6% (27th)||79.7% (20th)|
|5v5 Fenwick Close Percentage||45.91% (25th)||45.36% (28th)|
|PDO||102.22 (3rd)||98.51 (25th)|
View from Calgary
View from Arizona
Speaking of teams with abnormal shooting percentages, the Coyotes. Two cogs in the Coyotes' machine that are underperforming this season are Sam Gagner (SH% at 3.7%) and Oliver Ekman-Larsson (SH% at 4.1%). The obvious problem with that is both of these players were expected to be difference makers this season, and have been for the wrong reasons.
OEL's play is particularly worrisome. It appears that the Swedish defenseman is attempting to play a much more physical style of game this season, which seems to be a departure from what made the Swede so dangerous earlier on in his career. The finesse Ekman-Larsson may not have been as physical as some would like, but he was quite adept at making plays happen in the offensive zone.
So the marquee defensive matchup of this game will likely not be OEL vs. Giordano. Instead, OEL's place will likely be taken by Keith Yandle, who in addition to putting up points at a healthy clip is enjoying a much more fundamentally sound season than in years past. Yandle's play this season appears to be a rebuttal to those who wanted to pass the franchise defensemen torch off to Ekman-Larsson a couple of seasons ago.
Keys to the Game
- Avoid Score Effects like the plague - Basically, score effects are what happens when a team with the lead settles into a more defensive shell, inflating the opposing team's shot totals significantly. The problem for the Coyotes is that they lack the upfront talent to swing a game back around should the other team press the advantage. If the Coyotes are fortunate enough to get a multi-goal lead, they must be more aggressive.
- Find Success Down Low - The Coyotes power play is middling this season, and a big reason for that is its predictability. Arizona hasn't scored a power play goal at home since October 25. If a team knows the offense will be running through the point, there's less of a need to cover down low. The Coyotes need players like Sam Gagner and Mikkel Boedker to post offensive threats from deep within the zone.
- Find Your Legs Early - Both teams have had a significant amount of time off for Thanksgiving. Long periods of rest don't typically favor the Coyotes though. Start strong and don't allow the Flames to bury the Coyotes early.
Jiri Hudler has four goals in the team's last three games. Johnny Gaudreau has three assists in the same stretch.
Antoine Vermette is tied with Keith Yandle for the team lead in scoring, and is one back of Shane Doan and Mikkel Boedker for the team lead in goals after Vermette's two point performance on Tuesday.
First round draft pick Sam Bennett (shoulder surgery) is out until February. Joining him on injured reserve are Mason Raymond (shoulder), Matt Stajan (knee), Joe Colbrone (concussion), and Mikael Backlund (abdominal). Deryk Engelland (illness) is listed as questionable for tonight.
Both Brandon Gormley (undisclosed) and David Moss (upper body) remain on injured reserve, which makes it possible that Brendan Shinnimin draws in on offense for the Coyotes.
Late start time tonight for the Coyotes in order to accommodate the CBC up in Canada. Tonight's game begins at 8 PM Arizona time, and can be seen on Fox Sports Arizona and heard on 620 AM.