The Arizona Coyotes are outpacing all expectations heading into this season; they stand atop the Pacific Division, they're getting scoring from their young forwards, and have kept the puck out of their net more often this season.
Tonight's test against the Boston Bruins may prove to be the biggest challenge of all, as an injury depleted Coyotes team plays the second half of a road back-to-back against the rough and tumble Bruins.
Matchup at a Glance
|Arizona Coyotes||Boston Bruins|
|Points||11 (1st Pacific)||7 (6th Atlantic)|
|Goals For||3.00 (T-8th)||3.86 (3rd)|
|Goals Against||2.44 (T-10th)||4.14 (29th)|
|Power Play||13.2% (24th)||33.3% (1st)|
|Penalty Kill||84.8% (11th)||68.2% (29th)|
|5v5 Corsi For||45.4% (28th)||50.2% (15th)|
|PDO||105.9 (2nd)||97.4 (25th)|
View from Arizona
Arizona's power play got a much needed shot in the arm last night with two first period goals courtesy of Max Domi and Shane Doan. Moving Mikkel Boedker off the point is looking more and more like a smart move given how much more natural he seems to be playing down low.
While the young guys keep playing great hockey, the Coyotes are finally now getting secondary scoring as well. Brad Richardson, Shane Doan, Kyle Chipchura, and Klas Dahlbeck have all scored in the past two games. The more players like these can score, the less pressure is on players like Domi, Anthony Duclair, and Tobias Rieder.
View from Boston
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Boston and Arizona only play each other twice a year. This time around, they're getting their meetings out of the way early, as the Bruins and Coyotes already tangled in Glendale a couple of weeks ago.
Since then, the Bruins have played much the same way as they did in Arizona; score lots of goals and give up almost as many. They lost 5-4 in overtime to Philadelphia on Wednesday, and won 5-3 against the Islanders on Friday.
The defensive woes are not exactly unforeseeable (though Tuukka Rask's .854 save percentage is a surprise). What has kept the Bruins in relative contention in the Atlantic Division thus far has been the prolific scoring. Jimmy Hayes, Tyler Randall, and David Pastrnak have all pitched in to the Bruins cause, but if the defense doesn't get better, they'll have to carry the load for a long time.
Keys to the Game
- Full Throttle - If injuries are going to be a concern, then the Coyotes need to get to the Bruins as fast as possible and play with a lead.
- Don't Make Stupid Mistakes - This game has the potential to be a very lively back and forth affair. Arizona needs to do its best to avoid gifting Boston chances.
- Don't Look Ahead - The Coyotes get two days off after this game. That's plenty of time to rest up. The team needs to focus on this game now, not on the break later.
Players to Watch
At the ten game mark, your NHL assist leader is...Martin Hanzal? Hanzal has ten assists on the young season, so his status is going to be a major storyline to watch going into this game.
With Dougie Hamilton's departure, Torey Krug is going to be a key source of blue-line offense for the Bruins. He has six assists in seven games so far.
Crucial names on this list for the Coyotes. Antoine Vermette and Martin Hanzal are both considered questionable for tonight's game, while Joe Vitale is on injured reserve with an orbital bone fracture.
Boston will not have Dennis Seidenberg until November. They are expected to get Matt Beleskey back tonight after he missed the last two games.
Game time is 4 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Arizona or listen on ESPN 620 AM.