After having had the fortune of playing Edmonton in a home and home series, fortune once again shines on the Arizona Coyotes as they travel to San Jose to face the Sharks; a team that they've had relative success over recently.
View from Arizona
Just when all is lost, the Coyotes get to play the Oilers and win two games in a row. In past seasons this wouldn't really be any reason for hope, but so far this season Edmonton sits in 1st place in the Pacific. If you combine two wins over the team 1st in the division with two wins over the team 2nd in the division (the Sharks) with the potential for a third, the Coyotes are doing something right - right?
Such is the importance of this game against the Sharks. The view from Arizona is quite straightforward: “we know what to do, but we just haven’t done it every-time....yet.” If we look at the standings in the Western Conference, the Coyotes are now only four points behind the Winnipeg Jets who are only two spots outside of a Wild Card spot but have also played 4 more games than the Coyotes. And the two teams sitting in the Wild-Card spots at the time of writing have played two and three more games than the Coyotes respectively.
Pictured: the Coyotes could sneak into the Stars’ current position by winning a few of their catch-up games.
Now obviously aiming for two spots outside of a Wild Card spot is hardly exciting, but it a realistic beginning point for a competitive season. Wins against the 1st placed Oilers and 2nd placed Sharks from the Pacific is a great, confidence boosting way to start. Of course this is all optimistic and a loss against the Sharks throws the Coyotes back to the basement. But if Arizona and its fans can’t be optimistic, what’s the point?
View from San Jose
For more on the San Jose Sharks, check out Fear the Fin.
It’s business as usual for the San Jose Sharks who are sitting 2nd in the Pacific Division. The Western Conference Champs locked up Brent Burns earlier in the week with a contract that essentially lasts until hell freezes over and into a time where Sharks will literally walk among men on the Earth. (Editor’s note: this may be hyperbole.) One can only hope Burns is still alive at this point in time to help make up the vanguard of the Human Defense Force.
But on a more immediate note, the Sharks are going all out for the Cup again this season and with Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton running out of time, it is now make or break for San Jose. The Sharks have been unable to solve the Coyotes in two tries this season, but there is no better time than the present to be making changes.
Ex-Coyote Mikkel Boedker has yet to score since his initial meeting with his former pup pals back on November 1st and Arizona can only hope that whatever is preventing the speedy skater from scoring at least stays that way for one more night.
Can the Coyotes get a convincing win? - Despite having won their last two games in a row as well as their last two games against the Sharks, it still feels unlikely that the Coyotes will win tonight against San Jose in a convincing manner. However, no one is objecting if they do...
Will Jakob Chychrun play tonight and be effective? - Chychrun now hasn’t played since November 19th, when the Coyotes last took on the Sharks. In that game he recorded only 8:08 minutes of time on ice, far below what he was usually recording. Could he have been secretly carrying a light injury since that game and Arizona have just been giving him the time he needs to recover?
Which Mike Smith will turn up to play? - We just don’t know. Suddenly Smith is carrying a very respectable .923 save % on the season. His game against the Canucks was awful but Smith was nothing short of incredible in both recent games against the Oilers; everyone knows which Smith Arizona would prefer on a nightly basis.
Players to Watch
Arizona - Anthony DeAngelo - One day Coyotes’ fans can hope DeAngelo becomes a Burns-like player, but for now in his rookie season we’re happy how he’s going. DeAngelo has one goal and three assists in his last five games and has been heating up while Oliver Ekman-Larsson has been cooling down.
San Jose - Brent Burns - Burns has two goals and four assists in his last five games but it should be noted in his last outing against the Coyotes he went pointless. Limiting Burns’ influence on the game is a key to defeating the San Jose Sharks and it appears the Coyotes recognize this - hopefully they can do so again tonight.
Louis Domingue is close to coming off injured reserve if he does not come off prior to tonight’s game, while Brad Richardson is out indefinitely.
Melker Karlsson and Tomas Hertl are out indefinitely, while Tommy Wingels is considered questionable for tonight’s game. Marc-Edouard Vlasic suffered an injury on Saturday night but is expected to play tonight.
Tonight’s game begins at 8 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game live on Fox Sports Arizona or listen in on AZ Sports 98.7 FM.