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Arizona Coyotes face Columbus Blue Jackets in first game of home and home

What kind of fireworks will the Coyotes and Blue Jackets detonate this time around?

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Arizona Coyotes Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Coyotes are about to face the Columbus Blue Jackets. While normally, this is not particularly noteworthy, the Coyotes and Jackets combined for some memorable contests last year. Will this year’s be as explosive?

View from Columbus

For more on the Columbus Blue Jackets, check out The Cannon.

Coming off of a 3-2 victory over the struggling Colorado Avalanche, the Columbus Blue Jackets are coming into tonight’s game at 13-5-4, which is good for 3rd in the Metropolitan Division. They have some very exciting rookies including Zach Werenski, NHL rookie of the month for November. He is an amazing offensive defenseman, something Columbus has needed for a very very long time. With Werenski, Ryan Murray, and Seth Jones, Columbus has quietly assembled a solid defensive corps.

The last two meetings of these teams have been incendiary affairs fueled with fights and post-whistle jabs. John Tortorella and Brandon Dubinsky are always up for mixing it up a little bit, dating back to their time with the New York Rangers. So expect the same tonight.

View from Arizona

Coming off of a 4-3 loss to the L.A. Kings, the Coyotes are hoping to get back on the winning side against the Blue Jackets, before heading out on the road. This is also the start of three games in four nights.

All of the goals from the loss to the Kings were caused by bad turnovers from rookies and vets alike. Keeping turnovers down to a minimum will be the most important thing for the Coyotes this evening.

Three Questions

  1. Can the Coyotes get a win against an Eastern Conference team that’s not Philly? - After their initial East Coast swing, the Coyotes played in conference for every game, save one home game against the Bruins. They could get the upper hand on Columbus, but Sergei Bobrovsky has three shutouts already this year.
  2. Can they help a goalie out and stop with the turnovers? - Arizona’s defense did a better job suppressing shots, but turning the puck over right in front of the net or deep in the defensive zone remained an issue. They have to be better. Full stop.
  3. Will this be anything like last season’s game against Columbus? - Last season the Coyotes and Blue Jackets combined for 23 goals in just two games, which is insane. Let’s just hope this doesn’t happen again. Please.

Players to Watch

Columbus - Zach Werenski - He is one of the best young defensemen in the league and has the shot to prove it. Werenski has five goals and eleven assists in twenty-two games. He is just 19 years old and is showing why he was drafted in the first round in 2015.

Arizona - Tobias Rieder - Rieder finally scored, after a long drought, against the Kings on Thursday. He is fast and determined in his third pro-season to show that he is worth a larger contract when he comes up for arbitration. Rieder is an amazing defensive winger who has speed to burn. Don’t be surprised if he starts to score more.

Injury Report

Columbus is only missing, actively, Dalton Prout who is day to day with back spasms. They are also missing David Clarkson who is on IR for the foreseeable future.

For the Coyotes, Brad Richardson will miss an extended period of time and is on injured reserve. Martin Hanzal and Oliver Ekman-Larsson took maintenance days yesterday but should be good to play tonight.

Puck Drop

Tonight’s game begins at 6 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game live at Gila River Arena, watch it on Fox Sports Arizona, Fox Sports Go, or listen on ESPN Phoenix 620 AM.