The Arizona Coyotes have played every team in the Pacific Division this season, except for one. Until tonight.
Arizona will play the San Jose Sharks in Gila River Arena in a battle for sole possession of second place in the Pacific Division. This game marks the first of ten straight games against Western Conference opponents.
Matchup at a Glance
|San Jose Sharks||Arizona Coyotes|
|Points||49 (2nd Pacific)||49 (3rd Pacific)|
|Goals For||2.84 (5th)||2.73 (8th)|
|Goals Against||2.73 (T-21st)||2.98 (T-27th)|
|Power Play||21.2% (6th)||18.6 (13th)|
|Penalty Kill||79.5% (20th)||76.4% (28th)|
|5v5 Corsi For||50.7% (12th)||47.1% (26th)|
|PDO||99.2 (T-22nd)||101.3 (T-4th)|
View from San Jose
For more on the San Jose Sharks, be sure to check out Fear The Fin
The Sharks would probably be sitting pretty in second in the Pacific Division were it not for their league worst 8-12-1 home record, especially since their 15-6-2 road record is second only to Washington for the league's best mark.
Coyotes fans are undoubtedly familiar with San Jose's lead scorers. Joe Pavelski leads the way with 22 goals, while Joe Thornton leads the team with 26 assists. Equally important to the team's success has been the production of depth players like Joel Ward, who has 13 goals and 15 assists, and Joonas Donskoi, who has six goals and 11 assists.
In net, Martin Jones has proven to be a steady, if uninspiring, presence in net, with a .914 save percentage in 36 games. As the trade deadline approaches, the Sharks are likely going to be searching for defensive help to make a run at that ever elusive Stanley Cup.
View from Arizona
After a promising start to the homestand, the Coyotes are now winless in their last three games, with a very porous penalty kill and a slumbering offense commanding equal shares of the blame.
The drop-off has not come as a complete surprise. Anthony Duclair has shot 23.5% this season despite taking only 51 shots (the team leader, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, has taken 137), while Max Domi is shooting 15.9% off of 82 shots. While some of that rate is dictated by ice-time, it also goes to show that some of Arizona's younger players are perhaps a little too selective at taking shots.
In good news, Connor Murphy appears to have gelled quite well with Oliver Ekman-Larsson on the top pairing. It hasn't really translated into points, but in Murphy's defense it's kind of challenging to score when the guy on your pairing is so dynamic.
Keys to the Game
- Mitigate the Top Line - San Jose's top line has always been incredibly effective. Even if the Coyotes can't completely stop them, they need to win the other matchups that might be more favorable to them.
- Don't Lose Your Head - There were a lot of fireworks at the end of Monday night's affair against the Buffalo Sabres. Nobody appears to have earned supplemental discipline, but the Coyotes are almost certainly on notice. They have to make sure their emotions don't get the better of them.
- Keep Working Early On - Arizona has done a very good job in the past few games of being aggressive early and taking shots. Even if it's not leading to success right now, the goals will come if they keep pressing.
Players to Watch
After losing Logan Couture for most of 2015, the Guelph native has two goals and two assists in his last five games. Couture is another piece San Jose is really going to need for the stretch run.
Arizona's best player in 2016 has arguably been Louis Domingue. He's posted five appearances with a save percentage of .927 or better since the new year, including one shutout. Domingue is bailing out the Coyotes and keeping them in games they otherwise should not be in.
San Jose's lone injury is Dainius Zubris, who is nonetheless considered probable for tonight's game.
Arizona is still only missing Mike Smith and Joe Vitale, who are both on injured reserve.
Tonight's game begins at 7 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Arizona (though be sure to tune in an hour earlier for Fox Sports Arizona's recognition of Shane Doan setting the franchise goal scoring record earlier this season. You can also listen to the game on 92.3 KTAR FM.