Last Thursday was a small bit of catharsis after what has been a brutal month of February for the Arizona Coyotes. Unfortunately, that catharsis came with a price.
Max Domi will serve a one game suspension tonight for a fight with Ryan Garbutt late in Thursday's game against the Anaheim Ducks, as the Arizona Coyotes play the Florida Panthers for the second time in as many weeks.
Matchup at a Glance
|Florida Panthers||Arizona Coyotes|
|Points||80 (2nd Atlantic)||60 (5th Pacific)|
|Goals For||2.66 (T-12th)||2.63 (T-17th)|
|Goals Against||2.31 (T-3rd)||3.16 (30th)|
|Power Play||16.8 (27th)||18.3% (17th)|
|Penalty Kill||81.4% (T-13th)||77.3% (T-25th)|
|5v5 Corsi For||47.8% (T-22nd)||47.1% (28th)|
|PDO||101.8 (3rd)||100.1 (T-13th)|
View from Florida
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Florida's run at the top of the Atlantic Division is suddenly in serious jeopardy. The Panthers are 4-4-0 in their last ten games, while the in-state rival Tampa Bay Lightning are 8-2-0.
Perhaps in an effort to bolster the team's mediocre offense and subpar special teams, the Panthers added Teddy Purcell, Jiri Hudler, and Jakub Kindl at the Trade Deadline. Will it be enough to make a Cup run? The Panthers certainly hope it will keep them in the mix with Washington and Tampa Bay.
Last time these two teams met, Florida's speed through the neutral zone proved to be too much for the Coyotes to handle. The Panthers hope they can run over Arizona's defenders again as the Coyotes stuggle to put things together.
View from Arizona
It was great to see Max Domi standing up for teammate Oliver Ekman-Larsson late in the third period after a hard check by Ryan Garbutt. Unfortunately for Domi, NHL rules require an automatic one game suspension for anyone who takes an instigator penalty with less than five minutes remaining in the game.
Unfortunately for Arizona, Domi's instigator penalty came at 17:30, and the NHL declined to rescind the penalty. As a result, Domi will sit for tonight's game. Although you never want your best players out of the lineup, Domi's instant reaction to defend OEL is undoubtedly a morale booster for a Coyotes locker room that hasn't had a lot of good news recently.
Keys to the Game
1. Neutral Zone Trap - Arizona needs to keep Florida's speedy forwards from generating a full head of steam in the neutral. If they can do that, they'll have an easier time defending their own zone.
2. Avoid Consecutive Penalties - It wasn't just that the Coyotes gave Anaheim seven power plays, it was that they gave up consecutive penalties in a short window of time. Not only does it keep Arizona's best players on the bench, taking multiple penalties makes it hard to do much of anything in the offensive zone.
3. Confidence Boost - Both Louis Domingue and Niklas Treutle got shellacked in their last starts. Both goalies are likely in a tough mental state, so the Coyotes need to be good early at giving them easy looks.
Players to Watch
Aleksander Barkov is just two goals behind Jaromir Jagr and Reilly Smith for Florida's scoring lead. He's already beat the career highs he set last season, and is proving that the Panthers' faith in the second overall selection of 2013.
In Domi's absence, Anthony Duclair is going to be the guy for Arizona. With Arizona's lone goal in the game against Anaheim, the Coyotes could benefit from a hot streak by their other talented rookie.
Neither David Bolland or Willie Mitchell are expected to return to play anytime soon, while Jonathan Huberdeau and Derek MacKenzie are also on injured reserve. Teddy Purcell and Jiri Hudler were able to play with Florida in Winnipeg, but visa issues in the United States may prevent them from dressing tonight.
Joe Vitale and Anders Lindback are done for the season, while Mike Smith is still not ready to return. Boyd Gordon has been skating with the team, but has still not played since early-February. Alex Tanguay and Zbynek Michalek are both considered questionable for the game.
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.