clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Arizona Coyotes return from Christmas break to welcome Dallas Stars

New, comments

After a few days away from the game, the Coyotes are right back at it.

NHL: Arizona Coyotes at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

After a brief break, the Arizona Coyotes will return to action against a team desparate to make some headway in the Western Conference playoff race: the Dallas Stars.

View from Dallas

For more on the Dallas Stars, check out Defending Big D

Every season there seems to be one team that suffers a disastrous set of injuries. This year, that might be the Stars. Dallas has gone without Patrick Sharp, Ales Hemsky, Jason Spezza, and Jiri Hudler for considerable stretches of the season. While Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin have been healthy thus far, that’s a lot of secondary scoring Dallas is not getting behind their two dynamic forwards.

On top of that, an already underwhelming defense has seen even greater setbacks. While Alex Goligoski is not exactly lighting it up in Arizona, his absence in Dallas has been more problematic than initially expected. Additionally, John Klingberg has been struggling mightily this year, with as many healthy scratches as he has goals (two).

Top it off with shaky goaltending from Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen, and perhaps it comes as no surprise that the Stars are currently on the outside looking in when it comes to postseason position. Something needs to change, and fast, for the Stars to get back into the playoffs.

View from Arizona

The Visitation of the Three Canadian Teams did not go particularly well for the Coyotes; Arizona went 0-3-0 in that stretch and scored only five goals in that span, while their opponents scored 11 times in the same stretch.

It’s not a good sign for your offense when a guy who hasn’t played since December 8th is still third on the team in scoring, but that’s where the Coyotes find themselves. Arizona needs more from everybody, but especially the forwards expected to score in Max Domi’s absence.

Three Questions

  1. Can Dave Tippett exploit line matchups? - The Stars have a dreadful 4-9-4 record away from home, which suggests their injury problems are amplified when they don’t get the last change. Can Tippett put effective line combinations in the best position to do damage tonight?
  2. Will Arizona have some jump in their step? - With no team activities for three days, the break functions as much as a mental reset as it does a physical one. With some time off and no travel, will the Coyotes be able to attack the offensive zone with some tenacity?
  3. Will Alex Goligoski score against his former team? - Goligoski has 12 assists on the season, but just one goal. Given Peter Holland’s recent success against the Toronto Maple Leafs, perhaps it’s Goligoski’s turn to wreak havoc against his former team.

Players to Watch

Dallas - Patrick Eaves - With the losses of Sharp, Hemsky, and Spezza for portions of the season, Patrick Eaves has been picking up the scoring slack. He leads the Stars in goals with 12, and is well on his way to having his best scoring year since 2005-06 with Ottawa.

Arizona - Tobias Rieder - Where has Tobias Rieder gone? The German forward has not scored since December 5th against Columbus, and only has a pair of assists since then. Part of Arizona’s offensive woes can be attributed to a lack of forward scoring; they need Rieder to be his usual self to be successful.

Injury Report

Dallas is without Patrick Sharp, Ales Hemsky, and Mattias Janmark, who are all out long-term. Perennial pest Antoine Roussel has been moved to injured reserve, while Cody Eakin is not eligible to return from suspension until Thursday. Stephen Johns is also considered questionable after missing Dallas’ last game.

Brad Richardson and Max Domi remain on injured reserve. Jakob Chychrun is questionable with a concussion, while Arizona’s own pest Ryan White may not be available for tonight’s game.

Puck Drop

Tonight’s game begins at 7 PM Arizona time. you can watch the game on Fox Sports Arizona or listen on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.