If there was any point on the schedule where the Arizona Coyotes were going to have a chance to get rolling, it would be this week. So far, not so good.
After escaping Alberta last night with a point in the standings, the Coyotes will get another chance against a slumping Canadian team in the Vancouver Canucks.
View from Arizona
The Coyotes left Calgary last night with a point after an overtime loss, but really only have Mike Smith to thank for leaving with anything at all. Arizona was listless for much of the game, recording only 21 shots.
Moreover, the late Matthew Tkachuk goal really seemed to deflate the Coyotes, as they gave up 25 shot attempts afterwards, compared to just five shot attempts of their own in the same stretch. Given how much the Flames had struggled recently, the loss is particularly disappointing.
View from Vancouver
For more on the Vancouver Canucks, check out Nucks Misconduct.
If there is any solace in how poorly the start of this season has gone for the Coyotes, it’s the fact that at least they aren’t the Vancouver Canucks. Vancouver is just two points ahead of Arizona for last place in the Western Conference. But Arizona’s AHL affiliate - the Tucson Roadrunners - is atop the AHL standings with a bevy of talented, young forwards. Vancouver’s AHL affiliate on the other hand is dead last in its entire league.
The Canucks really don’t have a lot of game breaking prospects in their system to look towards in the future. Olli Juolevi should be a nice addition to Vancouver’s blue-line, and Brock Boeser is off to a great start at North Dakota. But neither are likely to be NHL regulars in time to help Daniel and Henrik Sedin secure that elusive Stanley Cup.
- Can the Coyotes attack the Vancouver net? - A commonality in Arizona’s recent losses has been an inability to screen goaltenders and get scoring chances up close. Hopefully Martin Hanzal’s return to the lineup will make that easier for the Coyotes, but they have to start getting in close.
- How healthy are Arizona’s key contributors? - Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Anthony Duclair both left the Calgary game in the second period. While both returned and are not listed as injuries, the quick turnaround has to be a concern.
- Can the Coyotes score more than once? - Arizona has scored just four times in its last three games, and one of those goals came with two seconds left in the third period. Even if Mike Smith plays out of his mind, one goal is not going to get it done.
Players to Watch
Arizona - Alex Goligoski - Goligoski has six assists this season, but has not been the steadying presence on the second pairing the Coyotes were hoping for. He needs to have a big game.
Vancouver - Bo Horvat - One player that appears to be settling into the NHL is Vancouver’s 9th overall selection in 2013. Horvat has five goals and four assists in 17 games this season, good enough for third on the Canucks in points. After a 40 point season last year, Horvat is a bright spot for Vancouver heading into the future.
With the return of Hanzal and Smith, Arizona is icing a fully healthy roster, though the statuses of Ekman-Larsson and Duclair warrant watching.
The Canucks have Anton Rodin, Jannik Hansen, and Chris Tanev on injured reserve until late-November at the earliest, while Jayson Megna is considered questionable for tonight’s game.
The Coyotes get underway tonight at 8 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Arizona or listen on ESPN Phoenix 620 AM.