Consistency has been the buzzword for the Arizona Coyotes all year. Consistency in production, consistency in the fundamentals, and ultimately, consistency on the scoreboard.
As the Coyotes play the New York Rangers tonight, they'll get yet another chance to establish consistency, as they attempt to build off of a big win Thursday night against Colorado.
Matchup at a Glance
|New York Rangers||Arizona Coyotes|
|Points||20 (1st Metropolitan)||13 (4th Pacific)|
|Goals For||2.92 (7th)||2.83 (11th)|
|Goals Against||1.77 (T-1st)||2.83 (19th)|
|Power Play||16.1% (20th)||10.2% (30th)|
|Penalty Kill||87.5% (6th)||84.8% (8th)|
|5v5 Corsi For||46.9% (27th)||47.5% (26th)|
|PDO||105.8 (1st)||102.0 (6th)|
View from New York
For the New York Rangers' perspective, be sure to check out Blueshirt Banter
When last these two teams met, the Rangers took care of business with a 4-1 win at Madison Square Garden. Since then, the Rangers have won four of five, with their lone blemish an overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.
Mats Zuccarello and Oscar Lindberg are shouldering the load for New York, as both lead the team in goals with seven apiece. While strictly speaking the fact that both Zuccarello and Lindberg are outpacing Derek Stephan, Rick Nash, and Derick Brassard might be a little disconcerting, it also means the Rangers' offense has room to improve.
What may worry some Rangers fans is the team's appalling possession numbers; their Corsi For percentage at even strength is by far the worst of any of the division leaders. While New York can probably stomach the disparity better than most, New York may struggle against some of the better teams in the East, especially come playoff time.
View from Arizona
What a difference a win makes. The Coyotes beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-2 Thursday night, and while the Avs are not exactly a Central Division powerhouse, the Coyotes did many of the fundamentals right in their win; they attacked the zone all night, they capitalized on mistakes by sending pucks on net, and they kept a clean sheet on the penalty kill.
If the first 12 games of the season have taught Coyotes fans anything, it's that this team is noticeably different with Martin Hanzal on the ice versus when he's not. He's on a 1.2 points per game pace despite scoring zero goals so far this season, and it's clear the young forwards have more room to create chances when teams are accounting for Hanzal down the middle.
Mike Smith also got back in the win column with a respectable performance against Colorado. Though the two goals he conceded were not particularly great (a rebound opportunity for Cody McLeod and a sharp angle shot from Matt Duchene), the Coyotes played well in front of Smith, and Smith played well enough in his own right to win. Hopefully this boosts Smith's confidence moving forward.
Keys to the Game
- Do Something on the Power Play - Score a goal. Throw everything on net. Hold onto the puck for two minutes. Just something that puts pressure on the Rangers.
- Be Quick About It - The Rangers played last night in Colorado. Arizona got the day off. The Coyotes need to come out swinging, and really force New York to play catch-up.
- Fundamentals - Both Ranger goaltenders are off to strong starts this season, so goals will likely be at a premium. That puts the onus on the Coyotes defense to give their own goaltender easy looks at shots.
Players to Watch
Henrik Lundqvist is up to his usual tricks; he's 9-2-2 with a 1.80 GAA and a .945 save percentage. But his back-up - Antti Raanta - is playing pretty well in his own right; he's 2-0-0 with a 0.50 GAA and a .978 save percentage. It doesn't seem to matter who the Rangers turn to in net this season, they're getting results.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson has had a hard time finding the back of the net this year; he only has one goal and six assists in 12 games. The fact that Nicklas Grossmann has more goals this year than OEL might be the kick in the pants that gets OEL going.
The Rangers are pretty much healthy, though Rick Nash is considered questionable tonight with a back issue.
Joe Vitale remains on injured reserve with an orbital bone fracture. Antoine Vermette has been ruled out for tonight's game, while Stefan Elliott is considered questionable.
Tonight's game begins at 7 PM Arizona time. You can see the game on Fox Sports Arizona, or listen on AZ Sports 98.7 FM.