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Arizona Coyotes resume Eastern Conference schedule by hosting Boston Bruins

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The Bruins make their only trip to the Valley tonight.

NHL: Boston Bruins at Arizona Coyotes Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

After a lengthy trip to the East Coast to battle Eastern Conference opponents to begin the season, the Arizona Coyotes have not played a team from the other coast since.

That ends tonight, as the Coyotes welcome the Boston Bruins for their first - and only - visit to Glendale this season.

View from Boston

For more on the Boston Bruins, check out Stanley Cup of Chowder

Has the championship window in Boston closed? The Bruins are 8-6-0 this season and just on the outside of the last Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. Obviously 14 games does not a full season make, but the Bruins seem to be a crossroads between the old vanguard who brought the Stanley Cup back to Boston in 2011 and the newer, younger faces who will lead the team in the future.

A look at the top of the scoring leaders for the Bruins reveals where the team is. Four of the top five point producers this season are 28 or older (Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Dominic Moore, and David Backes), but also contributing are 24 year old Ryan Spooner, 20 year old David Pastrnak, and 19 year old Brandon Carlo.

There is more to come as well. Charlie McAvoy is off to a great start at Boston University, while 2015 Triple Threat Jakub Zboril, Jake Debrusk, and Zach Senyshyn are all getting ready for the big time. There will be a wave of talent arriving in Boston soon, but these younger players have some mighty tough acts to follow.

View from Arizona

Two steps forward, one step back. After a solid performance in Colorado on Tuesday, the Arizona Coyotes could not find any offensive rhythm against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday, en route to a disappointing 3-2 loss.

The overarching narrative so far this season has been the ability of the younger Coyotes to adjust to NHL life. The fact that the Coyotes are not getting blown out as much recently suggests they are getting better. But clearly, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done still.

All three of Winnipeg’s goals were preventable, but the lack of polish has really hurt the Coyotes this season. They will need to be better at minimizing their mistakes if they want to string a series of wins together.

Three Questions

  1. Can the Coyotes play mistake-free hockey? - The answer is almost certainly “no”, given no team really plays that way. But the Coyotes really need to focus on making good decisions in their own end, keeping track of where Boston’s best snipers are on the ice, and not forcing Louis Domingue to stand on his head to get a win.
  2. Will Shane Doan get going? - Doaner got an assist in Thursday night’s loss, which was his first point in several weeks. The 40-year old doesn’t have to keep pace with last year’s blistering 28 goals, but getting him off the schneid would be a big lift for Arizona’s bottom-six.
  3. Will Max Domi keep going? - Domi finally got his first goal of the season on Tuesday versus Colorado, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t contributing. He has turned into a playmaking machine with 10 assists in 13 games. Arizona could use more of that.

Players to Watch

Boston - Tuukka Rask - The Bruins are 8-6-0 this year, but Rask is 8-1, with two shutouts, a 1.76 GAA and a .938 save percentage. His battery mates - Anton Khudobin and Zane McIntyre - have save percentages of .849 and .859, respectively. If Rask plays, the Bruins have a great chance of winning. But when he doesn’t play, they struggle.

Arizona - Jordan Martinook - The slow development of Christian Dvorak and Dylan Strome and Martin Hanzal’s injury trouble have produced unexpected dividends in the emergence of Jordan Martinook at the center position. With five goals, Martinook is already more than halfway towards last season’s goal total.

Injury Report

Boston is without Frank Vitrano, Kevan Miller, Anton Khudobin, and Noel Accieri, who are all on injured reserve.

Martin Hanzal and Mike Smith have both been seeing limited action in practice, but are both also still on injured reserve. Michael Stone remains on IR for now, but is much closer to a return.

Puck Drop

Tonight’s game begins at 6 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Arizona, or listen on ESPN 620 AM.