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Arizona Coyotes vs Winnipeg Jets Preview: Preparing for take-off

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The Arizona Coyotes look to send out 2015 with a victory over the Winnipeg Jets.

Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

The last home game for the Arizona Coyotes was a game of many goals. On a night where there were multiple high-scoring games in the NHL, the Coyotes would fall 5-7 to the defending Stanley Cup Champions the Chicago Blackhawks. However, there were a few bright moments in this rather crushing loss, though they might seem like diamonds in the rough.

The bright spots will be key for the Coyotes as they end 2015 surrounded by ghosts of the franchise's past, playing the Winnipeg Jets on New Year's Eve at Gila River Arena.

Matchup at a Glance



Arizona Coyotes

Winnipeg Jets

Points

37 (T-2nd Pacific)

36 (7th Central)

Goals For

2.78 (8th)

2.69 (13th)

Goals Against

3.22 (T-29th)

2.89 (25th)

Power Play

16.3% (27th)

14.3% (29th)

Penalty Kill

78.6% (22th)

77.9% (T-25th)

5v5 Corsi For

47.20% (T-27th)

51.54% (10th)

PDO

101.2% (7th)

100.6% (T-11th)

View from Arizona

The last game for the Coyotes was rough from start to finish. While the Coyotes tremendously led the Hawks in shots the first period, that meant nothing when three of their measly five shots connected with the back of the net. Goaltending was rough and there were turnovers everywhere you looked.

Games against the Jets are always a wild ride. With the Coyotes battling for a play-off spot and only four points separating the second spot in the Pacific Division from the seventh, every game and every point counts. Offensive production and solid defensive execution are going to be crucial if the Coyotes want to continue to hold onto their playoff hopes.

View from Winnipeg

For the best Winnipeg Jets coverage, check out Arctic Ice Hockey

The Jets have had a weird start to the year, going into the Christmas break 15-17-2. They had lost four of their last five games heading into the holiday break, but the Jets seem to have reset their engines, as 22-year-old Connor Hellebuyck has helped lead the team to two back-to-back wins against Pittsburgh and Detroit.

The Jets will be riding their first winning streak of the season into the game against the Coyotes. The Jets offense was chalked up to be inconsistent and struggling before the holiday break but has seemed to find some ground and is now heating up. Consistency will be huge for Winnipeg in this game.

Keys to the Game

  • Take away the turnovers- There were a plethora of turnovers in the game against Chicago. They were errors that proved to be fatal as they resulted in several of the goals scored. We have seen costly errors too many times, especially in the defensive zone.
  • Play a physically defensive game- The Jets are known for their hard hitting, large defensemen. While that's not necessarily Arizona's style, the defensemen are going to have to buckle down if they plan to keep up in the game.
  • Goaltending- It's going to be at least another month before Mike Smith returns to the ice, so the Coyotes need to figure out their goal tending situation, and they better do it fast. Lindback was pulled before the second period of the last game after allowing 3 goals on only 5 shots, Louis Domingue, who relieved him, let in three more before the game's end.

Players to Watch

For the Coyotes the player to watch is none other than the captain Shane Doan. The Chicago game was huge for the Captain and this game looks to be just as big. Shane Doan scored three goals to tie Hawerchuk for most goals scored for the franchise at 379. One more goal and Doan will have the title to himself.

On the other end of the ice the player to watch for the Jets is none other than their net minder Connor Hellebyuck. To say he's been hot lately might be an understatement. Hellebyuck managed to garner his first NHL career shutout in his ninth start against the Pittsburgh Penguins before carrying a 101:10 shutout streak over the the game against the Detroit Red Wings.

Injury Report

Since getting hitting on the head by Jake Muzzin during the high-tension game against LA, Boyd Gordon has been placed on IR and while he won't return for this game, he looks to be back on the ice soon. Hanzal, who suffered a lower-body injury against the Islanders, has also been ruled out for the game against the Jets. Steve Downie is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

For the Jets, Mark Scheifele is out on IR with a concussion, and Ondrej Pavelec is also on IR due to a sprained knee that he sustained in the last matchup that featured the Coyotes.

Puck Drop

Tonight's game will begin at 7 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Arizona or listen on 92.3 KTAR FM.