What a difference a week has made for the Arizona Coyotes.
The Coyotes travel to Southern California tonight to play the Anaheim Ducks as the Coyotes have won two consecutive games and three out of their last four contests.
View from Arizona
Arizona is now 4-6-0 on the year, which while not great is a far cry from where they were to start the week, when they were 2-6-0 and reeling from a brutal 1-5-0 road trip and a disappointing loss to the Colorado Avalanche at home.
Since then, the Coyotes’ defense has stabilized; Arizona has allowed seven goals over its past three games, compared to the seven goals they allowed to the Ottawa Senators in Ottawa a couple of weeks ago. Louis Domingue looks more composed in net, while Anthony Duclair and Max Domi appear to be returning to form.
A back-to-back is never easy, but the past week has definitely been a confidence booster to a young Arizona team.
View from Anaheim
For more on the Ducks, check out Anaheim Calling
In the wake of another first round playoff loss - this time to the Nashville Predators - the Ducks did the unthinkable: they replaced Bruce Boudreau with Randy Carlyle. The move was, put charitably, not well received.
So far, the Ducks went from the second best team in the league at generating shot attempts 5v5 when the score was within one in 2015-16 to 17th this season. In essence, when the game is competitive and both teams are trying to win, the Ducks have done a considerably worse job creating offense this year than they did last year.
Anaheim has the talent to stay competitive in the Pacific Division, and the Ducks made an important step towards improvement by getting Hampus Lindholm under contract long-term. But Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are not getting any younger, and Anaheim’s window is closing quickly.
- Can the Strong Starts Continue? - Arizona has scored first in five of their last six games. They haven’t won all of those games, but they’ve made it much easier on themselves by taking early leads. After an extended shootout win versus Nashville, can they start off on the right foot?
- Who Will Start in Goal? - Domingue has looked very good in his last couple of games, and it will be tempting to ride the hot hand. But at the same time, goalies don’t tend to do particularly well playing both games of a back-to-back, so it may not be a foregone conclusion.
- Can Arizona Avoid a Possession Hole? - Despite scoring first, the Coyotes allowed Nashville to dominate possession for most of the first period before climbing their way back in the third. Can the Coyotes put the pressure on Anaheim and keep it on through the whole game?
Players to Watch
Arizona: Max Domi - Domi did most of the heavy lifting on Anthony Duclair’s first goal of the season against Nashville.
He has yet to light the lamp himself, but that only seems like a matter of time.
Anaheim: Antoine Vermette - The former Coyote has been pressed into service in a larger role than expected early on (more on that in a bit), but so far he has performed reasonably well for the Ducks. Vermette has a goal and four assists in eleven games, good enough for sixth on the team in points.
Arizona still has Mike Smith on injured reserve, while Michael Stone, Tobias Rieder, and Martin Hanzal are all considered questionable for tonight’s game.
Anaheim is without Nate Thompson, Simon Despres, and Nicolas Kerdiles, who are all on injured reserve. Nick Ritchie and Ryan Getzlaf are both considered questionable with injuries, while Hampus Lindholm is still sorting out visa issues due to his late start to the season.
Tonight’s game gets underway at 7 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Arizona Plus or listen on ESPN Phoenix 620 AM.