Rumor has it, there's something going on next door to the Arizona Coyotes later tonight. Whatever that event may be, the Coyotes decided to move their start-time up to noon.
Hopefully the earlier game will allow the Coyotes to turn the page on a tough overtime loss versus the Detroit Red Wings. They'll have to try versus a surprising New Jersey Devils team that, like Arizona, is defying expectations around the league.
Matchup at a Glance
|New Jersey Devils||Arizona Coyotes|
|Points||47 (6th Metropolitan)||49 (2nd Pacific)|
|Goals For||2.16 (29th)||2.84 (T-6th)|
|Goals Against||2.36 (8th)||3.02 (28th)|
|Power Play||17.9% (T-18th)||19.7% (11th)|
|Penalty Kill||82.3% (9th)||77.0% (27th)|
|5v5 Corsi For||47.2% (T-26th)||46.7% (29th)|
|PDO||99.9 (15th)||101.5 (4th)|
View from New Jersey
All About The Jersey is the place to go for everything about the New Jersey Devils
At the moment, the Devils are two points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and a game behind in the tiebreaker. The fact that they are even that close speaks volumes towards how well New Jersey has played this season.
The Devils have taken the serviceable players who couldn't find homes elsewhere in the league and have gotten tremendous performances from there. Kyle Palmieri is second on the team in points, and already has matched his career best total with 31 points. Lee Stempniak is having his best season since his last campaign with the Coyotes in 2010-11. And former Coyotes John Moore and David Schlemko are bolstering a very stingy New Jersey blueline.
Of course, any discussion of the Devils' success this year has to mention the stellar play of Cory Schneider. Schneider has a .926 save percentage and a 2.09 GAA, which means his 18-14-5 record is more due to lack of offensive support than performance issues on his end. Schneider should by all metrics end up in the Vezina Trophy discussion at the end of the year, alongside former Vancouver battery-mate Roberto Luongo.
View from Arizona
A lot of Internet space has already been spent weighing in on the John Scott fiasco. It is a PR headache for the NHL that the Coyotes either willingly or inadvertently contributed to, and a far bigger distraction than Scott's All-Star selection ever was.
But regardless of why the Coyotes made the move, Arizona now has two defensemen to work into the lineup. Kevin Connauton has not played for Arizona since he was picked up on waivers earlier this week, and Jarred Tinordi was the prize of the John Scott trade.
Tinordi is a very big guy (6' 6", 227 lbs), and is expected to help on the penalty kill, which is in a freefall towards the bottom of the league, and actively cost the Coyotes a point against the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday.
Keys to the Game
- Relive the First Period - The Coyotes may have scored both of their goals in the second period versus Detroit, but the first period was one of their better performances to date. The Coyotes severely outshot the Wings and made Petr Mrazek work all period long. With Cory Schneider in net, Arizona needs to do that again.
- Create Havoc In Front - Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Max Domi did their damage against Edmonton and Detroit thanks in large part to the work Shane Doan and Martin Hanzal did in front of the net. The Coyotes need to cause chaos in front of the crease.
- Stop Taking Penalties - Tinordi is unlikely to make a substantial impact on the penalty kill immediately, which means Arizona is better off giving New Jersey fewer opportunities with the man advantage.
Players to Watch
Adam Henrique is putting together a solid season for the Devils, with 15 goals and 14 assists. With all the injuries the Devils are dealing with, his contributions could not come at a better time.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson has three goals and four assists in four games. It's a shame the All-Star Game only has three defensemen slots per team, because that's the only thing keeping OEL out of the game this year.
New Jersey's list of injuries is lengthy. Ryane Clowe, Patrik Elias, and Jacob Josefson are all on injured reserve for an indefinite period of time. Michael Cammalleri and Jiri Tlusty are on IR until late-January, while Bobby Farnham is out until January 23rd with a suspension. John Moore and Jordin Tootoo are both considered probably for today's game.
Arizona is only missing Mike Smith and Joe Vitale, who both remain on injured reserve.
Today's game gets underway at noon Arizona time. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Arizona or listen on ESPN 620 AM.