The Arizona Coyotes may not be scoring very often, but it isn't due to lack of trying. They'll get a chance to put some points on the board while redeeming their last performance when they play the Colorado Avalanche tonight at Gila River Arena.
Matchup at a Glance
|Colorado Avalanche||Arizona Coyotes|
|Points||75 (6th Central)||50 (7th Pacific)|
|Goals For||2.54 (23rd)||2.00 (29th)|
|Goals Against||2.74 (T-21st)||3.23 (T-27th)|
|Power Play||13.8% (29th)||20.6% (7th)|
|Penalty Kill||84.3% (7th)||78.3% (26th)|
|5v5 SAT||43.6% (29th)||48.9%|
|SpSV%||101.3 (5th)||96.7 (29th)|
View from Colorado
View from Arizona
As anemic as the Arizona Coyotes' offense has been over the past few weeks, they still have yet to top their disastrous performance against the Colorado Avalanche back in February. In that game, the Coyotes went a full 24:03 without taking a single shot on net. For a team that struggles to score, not even creating the opportunity to score is unacceptable.
Ultimately, that inability to put the puck in the net has sent Arizona down to dead last in the Western Conference, behind even the lowly Edmonton Oilers. While that may be good for draft positioning going into the McEichel draft, it makes for difficult-to-watch hockey.
That being said, it's hard to look at the defensive efforts Arizona has maintained over the past couple of weeks and not see improvement. Younger defensemen like Connor Murphy and Brandon Gormley appear to have figured out how to play the way Dave Tippett wants them to. As a result, Arizona has given up only 11 goals over their past five games. That's a good sign heading into next season.
Keys to the Game
- Shoot - Colorado has a hard time holding onto the puck. The Coyotes need to generate possession and force the Avs' netminder to make saves.
- Net-front Presence - The lone goal the Coyotes scored against Cory Schneider and the New Jersey Devils came courtesy of a Shane Doan deflection. Those sort of plays are how scrappy teams score goals.
- Second and Third Chances - The Coyotes need to generate rebound opportunities of their own while minimizing Colorado's ability to do the same. That means forwards need to be aggressive around the faceoff circles in the offensive zone, and defensemen need to keep the slot clear in the defensive zone.
For the Avs, Tyson Barrie has a goal and five assists in his last five games. He's the kind of puck moving defenseman that can greatly improve an offense.
Mike Smith has a .943 save percentage in his past five appearances. He's done a great job improving his game over the past few weeks.
The Avalanche have multiple players sidelined for the rest of the year. Jesse Winchester, Ryan Wilson, and Jamie McGinn are all out for the season, while Patrick Bordeleau and Nathan MacKinnon are not expected back any time soon. Erik Johnson and Borna Rendulic are expected to finish the regular season, but are still on IR for now.
Both Martin Hanzal and Mikkel Boedker have been shut down for the season by the Coyotes. The rest of the roster is fully healthy.
Tonight's game begins at 7 PM Arizona time. You can see the game on Fox Sports Arizona Plus or listen on ESPN 620 AM.