It can’t go on forever, right?
The Arizona Coyotes have lost four games in a row after winning their season opener, a truly disastrous start to the 2016-17 season. But they will get another crack at a couple of points when they take on the New Jersey Devils tonight in Newark.
View from Arizona
After consecutive 3-2 losses in New York City, the Coyotes are still looking for a complete performance. Jamie McBain has been placed on waivers, which is presumably good news for Jamie McGinn, but the bigger question is what happens in net.
Head Coach Dave Tippett has not committed to a starter ahead of tonight’s game. Louis Domingue has looked better in both of the team’s New York losses, but both of the game winners were shots Domingue probably should have had.
Whomever ends up in net will have a tough test ahead of them; though Mike Smith’s injury does not sound long-term, the Coyotes can ill afford to fall even further behind than they already are in the Pacific Division.
View from New Jersey
For more on the New Jersey Devils, check out All About the Jersey
The New Jersey Devils were the beneficiaries on one of the most lopsided trades of the offseason, when they acquired Taylor Hall from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for defenseman Adam Larsson. While OIlers fans aren’t complaining too loudly about the move given their team’s 5-1-0 start, the Devils have received three goals in five games from Hall since his arrival.
New Jersey has continued to excel at picking up value in free agency and the waiver wire; P.A. Parenteau has a pair of goals and an assist, tied with last season’s steal: Kyle Palmieri.
The Devils also have a distinct Sedona Red flavor to them too. Coyotes veterans John Moore, Vernon Fiddler, and Brandon Gormley are all in the organization, while the Devils also iced Lee Stempniak and David Schlemko last season. Like the Coyotes of old, the Devils are getting the most out of cheap, yet serviceable, NHL players.
- Who can get the job done in net? - With Domingue’s struggles, Justin Peters may make another appearance at some point on this road trip, possibly even tonight. The starting job seems open for the taking right now.
- Will Jamie McGinn makes his debut tonight? - The Coyotes have been targeting tonight as a possible return date for McGinn since the beginning of the trip. Arizona has already received a lift from some of its other veterans, perhaps McGinn can give their middle-six another boost.
- Can the third pairing lock it down? - Jakob Chychrun and Luke Schenn have settled into the third pairing for now, but have also had a series of miscommunications and breakdowns turn into goals. Even if Chychrun takes a seat to give Kevin Connauton some more action, the Coyotes need their bottom pairing to clean up their own end.
Players to Watch
Arizona - Radim Vrbata - With three goals in his last two games, Vrbata is Arizona’s best offensive option at the moment. And perhaps he is the key to getting Max Domi going as well, because as teams pay more attention to him, they might start giving Domi more room to work with on the opposite wing.
New Jersey - Cory Schneider - New Jersey’s goalie continues to be the best netminder nobody talks about. In five starts this year, Schneider has a .943 save percentage, and has allowed more than two goals in a game only once this season. How he hasn’t received a Vezina Trophy nomination, let alone a win, is a mystery.
Mike Smith is on injured reserve as week to week, and is back in Arizona recovering from his knee injury. Jamie McGinn is still on injured reserve, but may make his return tonight against the Devils.
Jon Merrill and Luke Gazdic are both on injured reserve for the Devils, and aren’t expected back until early to mid-November.
Tonight’s game gets underway at 4 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Arizona or listen on ESPN 620 AM.