Sometimes you don't know what you've got until it's gone.
The Arizona Coyotes and their power play are learning exactly what they're missing now that Keith Yandle is no longer with the club. Tonight, they'll play against him and his new team - the New York Rangers - for the first time since the trade.
Matchup at a Glance
|Arizona Coyotes||New York Rangers|
|Points||7 (3rd Pacific)||9 (2nd Metropolitan)|
|Goals For||3.00 (T-8th)||2.57 (17th)|
|Goals Against||2.33 (T-10th)||2.14 (6th)|
|Power Play||10.3% (25th)||11.8% (23rd)|
|Penalty Kill||84.0% (T-16th)||84.6% (T-13th)|
|5v5 Corsi For||46.7% (T-24th)||47.2% (23rd)|
|PDO||109.0 (1st)||105.2 (2nd)|
View from Arizona
The first game of Arizona's current five game road trip could have gone better; Arizona struggled to generate anything resembling offensive pressure for the first 40 minutes of the game, and should consider themselves fortunate that they left New Jersey with any points at all.
On the bright side, the Coyotes finally got Mikkel Boedker off the schneid, first by removing him from the point on the power play, and then in setting up his first goal of the season on a nice, patient play with the net empty.
Though Keith Yandle undoubtedly made the power play better, it was not just him (more on that in a bit). What made Arizona's man-advantage so deadly was the combination of both Yandle and Oliver Ekman-Larsson at the points, which was arguably the best 1-2 point men punch in the entire NHL.
Arizona has not yet found a suitable replacement, though for now it appears Michael Stone is the heir apparent. How much time will he get to establish himself on the power play? And if he doesn't pan out, who's next?
View from New York
Be sure to check out Blueshirt Banter for comprehensive coverage of the New York Rangers.
It's interesting how New York's start to the season resembles Arizona's in several ways; relatively anemic power play, disappointing possession numbers, and a sky-high PDO thanks in large part to the extraordinary play of their goaltender, the ever fashionable Henrik Lundqvist.
Yet the offense is still not clicking as it should, and part of the power play's problem is like in Arizona, Yandle does not have that second partner on the point that commands a lot of attention. Not helping matters is the fact that Dan Girardi is off to a nightmarish start to his season; he has a 5v5 Corsi For Percentage of just 39.0, despite playing 17.5 5v5 minutes per game.
Still, Henrik Lundqvist is doing what he does best, and with the addition of Antti Raanta as a capable backup, the Rangers' goaltending corps looks as solid as ever. It remains to be seen whether that will be enough to hang with the other contenders in the Eastern Conference.
Keys to the Game
- Start Faster - Two shots in the first period is beyond unacceptable. Nicklas Grossmann tying for second on the team in shots against New Jersey is equally unacceptable. The Coyotes need to shoot early, and often.
- Torture the Top Pairing - If the Rangers are going to insist on playing Girardi as often as they are, then Dave Tippett and the Coyotes need to oblige them. Throw out those skill players in offensive zone starts, and make the older Rangers' defensemen skate hard to beat them.
- No Inopportune Penalties - The Coyotes will have players in the box from time to time. When those penalties occur is crucial. Arizona needs to stay out of the box if they have a slim lead, or if they're trailing late in the 3rd.
Players to Watch
Michael Stone has a goal and two assists in his last three games with the Coyotes. He appears to be settling in to his role as second fiddle to OEL.
Former Coyotes draft choice Oscar Lindberg leads the Rangers in points, with four goals and an assist. The player he was traded for - Ethan Werek - is now in the ECHL. Advantage: Rangers.
Arizona will be without Joe Vitale for four to six weeks as he recovers from an orbital bone fracture sustained in a bout with Boston's Kevan Miller.
The Rangers will likely have Derek Stepan tonight despite his coming off of wisdom tooth surgery.
Tonight's game begins at 4 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Arizona or listen on ESPN 620 AM.