It's usually not a good sign when a 3-2 loss in regulation is a sign that the team is moving in the right direction, but unfortunately that is where the Arizona Coyotes are early in the season.
The Coyotes will get another crack at earning points on this road trip when they take on the New York Rangers tonight at Madison Square Garden.
View From Arizona
The Yotes have not done themselves any favors this season, starting 1-3-0 with zero wins in regulation. Fortunately there are reasons to predict the Coyotes will be getting their first regulation win soon.
Michael Stone looked fully recovered from his ACL/MCL surgery in his return, playing 20:28, notching a shot on goal, and blocking three other shots, while Louis Domingue was able to shake off two weak outings against Ottawa and Montreal, and was much better against the New York Islanders on Friday.
Finally, the Coyotes are currently 25th in the NHL at the time of this writing in PDO at 97.09. Last season the Coyotes finished with a PDO at 100.75, which suggests they are scoring fewer goals and stopping fewer shots than normal. That tends to normalize over time.
View From New York
For more on the New York Rangers, check out Blueshirt Banter.
When the New York Rangers traded Anthony Duclair for Keith Yandle, it seemed to send the message that they were ready to embrace a "Win Now" mentality. One full season later, Keith Yandle has signed a deal with the Florida Panthers, Anthony Duclair had a solid rookie season with the Coyotes, and the New York Rangers haven’t been back to the Stanley Cup Final.
While the Rangers window may be closing soon, there is no reason to think that they are a team that is easy to beat right now. They are currently 3-2-0, and last night beat the defending Presidents’ Trophy Washington Capitals.
Although the narrative may be that the Rangers are close to peaking they have relatively young players leading the team right now. Twenty five year old left winger Chris Kreider leads the team in points with seven, and 23 year old center Mika Zibanejad isn’t far behind with six. Both players scored over 20 goals last season, and should be players the Yotes defenders have constant eyes on,
Surprisingly enough the Rangers, a team known for their star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, haven’t gotten the best goaltending. Lundqvist’s 5 on 5 save percentage is a low 88.68%. And while we are still early in the season and that number will likely go up with a larger sample size, it wouldn’t be too surprising if the 34 year old netminder starts to slip as he gets older.
1. Will the Coyotes have a lead this game? The Coyotes have not had a lead in a game since 13:41 of the first period, in their 7-4 loss against the Ottawa Senators. That has been 166:19 of either playing from behind or being tied, which is not good.
2. Will Domingue keep improving? When Domingue took over for an injured Mike Smith, he finished with a .727 save percentage in 11:38. Against the Canadiens in his 25:49 he was pulled after allowing four goals and finished with a .789 save percentage. Finally against the Islanders he allowed three goals and a .903 save percentage. While two of those outings are downright awful, and the third isn’t anything to write home about, Domingue does appear to be getting better each game.
3. Where are Max Domi and Anthony Duclair? Last season Domi and Duclair where the bright spots for many Coyotes fans, and proof that the rebuild was on the right track. To begin this season though, the pair have recorded just one assist, and both players have looked downright invisible in stretches. For the Coyotes to be successful this season we need last season’s Domi and Duclair.
Players to Watch
Arizona - Jakob Chychrun is the first player to play for the Arizona Coyotes in his draft year since Mikkel Boedker was drafted in 2008. Although he has made a few defensive mistakes, he has impressed with his speed, skill, and positioning.
New York - The Rangers have their own rookie this season, 23 year old Jimmy Vesey who had two goals last night against the Capitals. Vesey was a highly touted college prospect originally signed by the Nashville Predators. Upon learning that he wouldn’t sign with the Preds, Nashville wisely traded his rights to the Buffalo Sabres, who ultimately weren’t able to sign him before he hit free agency and ultimately signed with the Rangers.
For Arizona, Mike Smith is back in the valley getting medical tests and will not be available for tonight’s game. Jamie McGinn has been sidelined with an upper body injury and has been placed on the Injured Reserve list.
For the Rangers, Pavel Buchnevich is out with back spasms, and Oscar Lindberg is out with a hip surgery and likely will be out until November. Dan Girardi is expected to return to action tonight for the Rangers after dealing with a groin injury.
Tonight’s game at Madison Square Garden will air at 4 PM Arizona time, and will be available on Fox Sports Arizona and ESPN 620 AM.