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Arizona Coyotes close out miserable season against the Anaheim Ducks

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It's almost over.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Almost nothing has gone right for the Arizona Coyotes this season. With high hopes for a return to playoff contention, the Coyotes instead cratered early and never recovered. As a result, they will end their season in a game almost entirely devoid of meaning (as far as the standings go) for either participant when they play the Anaheim Ducks at Gila River Arena tonight.

Matchup at a Glance

Anaheim Ducks Arizona Coyotes
Points 107 (1st Pacific) 56 (7th Pacific)
Goals For 2.79 (11th) 2.02 (29th)
Goals Against 2.72 (T-20th) 3.27 (28th)
Power Play 16.0% (T-26th) 20.3% (7th)
Penalty Kill 80.8% (T-17th) 76.4% (T-28th)
5v5 SAT 48.7% (22nd) 51.2% (16th)
SPSv% 99.9 (T-18th) 97.1 (T-29th)

View from Anaheim

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Another year, another Pacific Division championship for the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks have now won the division for the third time in a row, and this time they did it comfortably; the Ducks led or had a share of the lead in the Pacific since October 16th.

Their roster is not particularly impressive on paper though. Skills of players like Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry aside, Anaheim has still struggled to create the kind of offensive depth that deep teams have. Ryan Kesler has been a solid offensive addition, as has Matt Beleskey. But their offense is mediocre, their defense is middling, and their possession numbers are okay too. This is a team that screams "early round exit" once again.

While they are assured of first place in the Pacific, the only question mark that gives this game some meaning is whether or not Anaheim will hold home ice throughout the Western Conference playoffs, as they are currently tied in points with the St. Louis Blues. But given the NHL Playoffs' tendency to produce upsets, the Ducks are probably better off getting healthy and taking 2nd in the conference instead of getting hurt fighting for first.

View from Arizona

At long last, a brutal season comes to a close. The Arizona Coyotes are now guaranteed 29th place by virtue of the Buffalo Sabres' loss last night. There are no playoffs, and no draft pick positioning left to play for this season. As the standings go, this game is totally meaningless.

For the players on the other hand, there's more than a little pride on the line. Journeymen like Mark Arcobello, Martin Erat, and David Moss are all auditioning for roster spots, whether in the Valley or elsewhere. Oliver Ekman-Larsson's coming out party is still going on, and younger players like Tobias Rieder and Henrik Samuelsson are around to get just a little more experience in before heading back to Portland for the AHL playoff push.

Keys to the Game

  • Play for Pride - Arizona would love nothing more than to show up Anaheim on the last day of the regular season. These two teams do not like each other.
  • Healthy Habits - The Coyotes need to improve much this offseason. If they can figure out how to possess the puck and attack the zone with speed, it will hopefully lay the groundwork for success next season.
  • Don't Do Anything Dumb - With this season as close to a full disaster as possible, the last thing the Coyotes need is for an important player to end up suspended for any part of next season. Play hard, but don't take any unnecessary liberties.

Who's Hot

While Andrew Cogliano has just two goals and an assist in his last five games, he has two against the Coyotes this year and 10 goals in four years as a Duck versus the Desert Dogs.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson's team leading 43 points are likely safe from Sam Gagner, who sits at 40 points even. Still, Gagner could score his 15th goal of the season to push him past Shane Doan and Mikkel Boedker for most among forwards.

Injury Report

Ryan Getzlaf has not played the last two games of the season in order to rest nagging injuries before the playoffs. There isn't much of a reason to play him tonight. Sheldon Souray is out for the rest of the year.

Mikkel Boedker and Martin Hanzal ended their seasons months ago, while Lauri Korpikoski and Shane Doan are both considered questionable for tonight's contest.

Puck Drop

The last game of the year at Gila River Arena begins at 6 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Arizona Plus or listen on ESPN 620 AM.