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Arizona Coyotes return home to face the Winnipeg Jets

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The Coyotes are back at Gila River Arena as they face off against the Jets 2.0 tonight.

After a quick trip to Denver, the Arizona Coyotes come back to the Valley of the Sun to face off against the Atlanta Thrashers Winnipeg Jets for the first time this season.

The Coyotes played probably their most complete game in the Mile High City, winning 4-2. The Coyotes are still in the bottom of the league, but they have been improving as the season goes on and the younger players gel with the veterans.

View from Winnipeg

For the Winnipeg perspective, check out Arctic Ice Hockey.

After winning the Draft Lottery and getting the second overall pick, you would think the Jets would have a lot to be excited for going into this season. Unfortunately things don’t always turn out the way you think they would, as the team quickly became embroiled in a contract dispute with Jacob Trouba. One of the better young defensemen in the league, Trouba found himself in the same situation that many RFAs do; he was offered a contract that was less than he is probably worth, but with little recourse other then to sit out. Both sides did eventually reach an agreement, and while he hasn’t played yet the Jets should be better with him.

While Winnipeg is not off to a great start, they do currently have the second Wild Card spot for the Western Conference. But they are only two points ahead  they have played more games then some of the teams below them, so you can possibly see that changing in the coming weeks.

View from Arizona

The Coyotes have been one of the more frustrating teams of the NHL this year. There have been stretches where they have looked good enough to compete for a playoff spot, but then there are large stretches where they are thoroughly outplayed by opponents.

Last Tuesday’s game against Colorado definitely showed more positives then negatives. The team was able to score first, come back from a one goal deficit, and keep up the pressure for a full 60 minutes. And while the Avalanche did have a perfect power play, the Coyotes only gave them one opportunity, a far cry from some of the penalty filled games like the Nashville Predators where the Yotes took seven penalties.

Three Questions

  1. Can the Coyotes get off to a strong start? The Coyotes have had some pretty terrible first periods this season. Perhaps the worst was the game against the Anaheim Ducks where they were behind 3-0 and were being out-shot 21-4. Its tough for NHL teams to win if they only play 40 minutes.
  2. Will the kids keep it up? While fans may have expected more from the rookies, the young kids are still big for the Coyotes this season. Sophomores Jordan Martinook, Max Domi, and Anthony Duclair have four goals, while rookies Anthony DeAngelo, Lawson Crouse, and Christian Dvorak have three goals in the past five games.
  3. Has the goaltending situation stabilized? Louis Domingue struggled on the Coyotes long road trip, but he has looked better since returning home. He still only has .896 save percentage on the season, but in three of the past five games he was over .920. If Domingue has found his footing it could bode well for the Yotes.

Players to Watch

Jets - Patrik Laine - The number two overall selection at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft has had a solid season that has made him a legitimate contender for the Calder Trophy this year. He currently leads the Jets with 11 goals and is second in points with 15.

Coyotes - Anthony DeAngelo - While the rookie defenseman didn’t make the team out of camp, he impressed in his first game of the season. DeAngelo had a goal and played 20:35. While the Coyotes are still trying to stabilize their blue line, DeAngelo made a strong case for consideration.

Injury Report

For the Jets, Joel Armia is out with an MCL injury, Shawn Matthias is out with a lower body injury with no timetable for return, Drew Stafford is out with an upper body injury, and Bryan Little is out with a lower body injury. Mathieu Perreault and Mark Stuart have both missed games leading up to tonight and it is unclear if they will return tonight.

On Arizona’s side, Martin Hanzal is out with a lower body injury, Michael Stone is out with an upper body injury and may return tonight, and Mike Smith is out until the middle of return. Chris Pronger and Dave Bolland are of course out for the season.

Puck Drop

Tonight’s game will be at Gila River Arena at 7 PM Arizona time and will also be airing on Fox Sports Arizona and on the radio at ESPN Phoenix 620 AM.