Matchup at a Glance
|Arizona Coyotes||Nashville Predators|
|Points||77 (4th Pacific)||94 (4th Central)|
|Goals For||2.58 (20th)||2.74 (12th)|
|Goals Against||3.00 (28th)||2.60 (T-14th)|
|Power Play||18.0% (19th)||19.6% (10th)|
|Penalty Kill||77.1% (28th)||81.2% (15th)|
|5v5 Corsi For||46.9% (28th)||52.6% (T-4th)|
|PDO||100.5 (10th)||99.6 (T-18th)|
View from Arizona
On the plus side, it can't get a whole lot worse.
After blowing a 2-0 lead in St. Louis in a 5-2 loss, the Coyotes were blown out 6-2 in Chicago. The injuries and lower stakes are taking their toll on Arizona's play, as Arizona has surrendered power play, even-strength, and shorthanded goals.
The upshot is that the Predators' offense is slightly less prolific than their last two opponents, but it is likely small consolation given it is still more productive than Arizona's. The Coyotes currently sit at 7th in the NHL drafting order, and can fall no further than 6th overall if the Jets win out and Arizona loses out. At this point, that is pretty much the only remaining storyline in Arizona's season.
View from Nashville
For the best Nashville Predators coverage, check out On the Forecheck
It took a while for the Predators to solidify their postseason status, but after a record of 15-8-5 through the months of February and March, Nashville locked up the first Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. While that has given the Predators some breathing room down the stretch, it also earns them a first round matchup against the winner of the Pacific Division.
Unlike previous years however, the Predators are winning despite their goaltending rather than because of it. Pekka Rinne has been definitively below average, with a .908 save percentage in 65 starts. Rinne's poor play is very likely what has kept Nashville out of the hunt for the Central Division title.
Offensively, James Neal and Filip Forsberg have led the way on offense, with 30+ goal seasons each. While Ryan Johansen has not quite provided the scoring spark Nashville was hoping for, he does have 32 points in 40 games, with 24 assists.
Keys to the Game
1. No Goals on Special Teams - Arizona's special teams have been absolutely dreadful against Chicago and St. Louis. They simply have to be better.
2. Attack the Goalie - While Pekka Rinne has been bad, Carter Hutton has been better. He is considerably more unproven however, so whomever the Coyotes face, they need to pressure.
3. Get Through Unscathed - With so little time left in the season, the last thing the Coyotes need is another long-term injury. Arizona needs to avoid ending up in dangerous positions on the ice as much as possible.
Players to Watch
Can Max Domi get to 20 goals? He sits at 18 currently, and he is just one point off the team's scoring lead. Can he wrap up both in the last two games?
While Shea Weber has long been known for his offensive prowess, Nashville's leading scorer on defense is actually Roman Josi. With his 59 points and Weber's 50, it is no surprise that the Predators were willing to let Seth Jones go to Columbus.
Joe Vitale, Anders Lindback, Michael Stone, and Jarred Tinordi are all officially ruled out for the remainder of the season. Louis Domingue is away from the team on a personal matter, while Nicklas Grossmann is not expected back with the Coyotes until Saturday night in San Jose. Martin Hanzal is still not with the team, and Eric Selleck is not expected to play either.
Gabriel Bourque is out indefinitely for the Predators since late-March, while Anthony Bitetto is considered questionable for tonight's game.
Tonight's game begins at 5 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Coyotes or listen on ESPN 620 AM.