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Arizona Coyotes take on the Winged Wheel of Detroit

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The Coyotes head to Detroit to play the Red Wings.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Coyotes make a brief foray through the Eastern Conference on their five game road trip starting tonight, when they take on the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

Matchup at a Glance

Arizona Coyotes Detroit Red Wings
Points 27 (3rd Pacific) 20 (2nd Atlantic)
Goals For 2.79 (11th) 2.40 (20th)
Goals Against 2.92 (25th) 2.56 (T-13th)
Power Play 15.7% (27th) 16.7% (25th)
Penalty Kill 80.4% (16th) 83.5% (T-7th)
5v5 Corsi For 46.8% (T-25th) 49.9% (T-12th)
PDO 100.9 (9th) 100.3 (14th)

View from Arizona

The Coyotes got severely outshot in Nashville, but held on to a lead through two periods thanks to Mike Smith and some highly opportunist offense. Their luck ran out in the third however, as the Predators scored four goals to win the game 5-2. They outshot the Coyotes by a nearly three to one margin despite the score being close for most of the game.

Tuesday's result highlights what has been a worrying trend for the Coyotes for many seasons. The team's possession metrics have always been mediocre at best, which means they've needed outstanding goaltending to carry them into the postseason.

While the offense has gotten noticeably better this year, their Corsi numbers have not. If Arizona's hottest scorers stop scoring, the team is going to struggle to win games. Sure, Corsi is not a perfect predictor of success, but it's probably not a coincidence that the teams that have consistently put more shots towards the net are also the ones who consistently make deep playoff runs.

View from Detroit

For more on the Detroit Red Wings, check out Winging It In Motown

Ho hum. Another year, another playoff-caliber team in Detroit.

The Red Wings are second in the Atlantic Division despite changing coaches and losing significant players like Pavel Datsyuk to injury for prolonged periods of the season. Jeff Blashill appears to have adjusted his line deployments to NHL realities, while the Wings have gotten healthier.

As a result, the team's possession numbers - which were mired in the bottom of the league for much of the early going - have risen dramatically. And once again, that are in good shape for a playoff spot.

Keys to the Game

  • Hold On to the Puck - Arizona didn't just fail to get many shots on net in Nashville, they simply couldn't take care of the puck at all. The Coyotes have to be more than a one-and-done offensive team.
  • Don't Make Careless Mistakes - Two of Nashville's four third period goals came off of defensive zone turnovers. As bad as giveaways are, giving the puck away in your own zone is inexcusable.
  • Punish Detroit's Older Players - Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Kronwall, and Henrik Zetterberg continue to be NHL regulars despite being in their mid-to-late 30s. The Coyotes need to play them physically hard all night long, while staying on the right side of the rules.

Players to Watch

Max Domi now leads the Coyotes in scoring, with eight goals and thirteen assists. In his last four games, he has five assists.

Equally impressive in his rookie debut has been Detroit's Dylan Larkin. He has ten goals and eight assists this year, including three goals and an assist in his last five games.

Injury Report

Steve Downie and Joe Vitale are still technically listed on injured reserve, though Craig Cunningham's assignment to the AHL suggests someone (likely Downie) may be coming off that list soon. Shane Doan remains questionable for tonight's game.

Johan Franzen has only played two games this season, as he has dealt with lingering concussion symptoms since mid-October. It is unclear if Franzen will ever be able to play again. Kyle Quincey meanwhile is also on injured reserve, and won't be back until January.

Puck Drop

Tonight's game begins at 5:30 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Arizona or listen on ESPN 620 AM.