A 3-0-0 homestand might not be enough to get the Arizona Coyotes back in the playoff race, but it would be a significant step forward for this team regardless. The Coyotes will get that chance tonight, as they welcome the Anaheim Ducks to Gila River Arena.
View from Anaheim
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The Ducks have been busy since these two teams met last week. Anaheim has played three games heading into tonight’s contest, surrendering just three goals in the process. Anaheim managed to shut out the Dallas Stars midweek before dispatching the Colorado Avalanche with relative ease on Thursday night.
Anaheim is in the driver’s seat for yet another playoff run; the Ducks lead the Pacific Division by two points (though second place San Jose has two games in hand), and they are eight points ahead of the Los Angeles Kings, who currently hold the second Wild Card spot.
Anaheim is getting the job done despite the fact that Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry have just 13 goals combined. Ryan Kesler is having an All-Star caliber season with 17 goals and 19 assists, while Rickard Rakell and Jakob Silfverberg have combined for 30 goals. Even as Anaheim’s long-time core begins to show signs of slowing down, some of Anaheim’s younger players are stepping into their roles.
View from Arizona
It is fascinating to see different aspects of the Coyotes rebuilding process on display. Last night fans were treated to a glimpse of what the Coyotes could be, as they put up four goals in the first period against a struggling Winnipeg Jets team by attacking from all over the ice.
More importantly, Arizona got a lot of contributions from key players. Brendan Perlini had two goals to accompany the goal he scored against the New York Islanders before the bye week, and the hat trick he scored during the bye week while down in Tucson. Jamie McGinn and Radim Vrbata also provided offense up front
Yet reality soon set in, as the Coyotes were out-shot in the second and third periods as they clung to a 4-3 regulation win. It wasn’t a convincing win by any stretch of the imagination, but inconsistent offense beats no offense any day of the week.
- Can the Coyotes score four more? - The Coyotes scored four goals in one period against Winnipeg, which is one more goal than the Coyotes have managed in the rest of 2017. Will the Coyotes do it again?
- Will Arizona’s solid penalty kill continue? - The last power play goal the Coyotes allowed came against the Calgary Flames on New Year’s Eve. Since then, they’ve killed off 13 straight penalties. Can they keep it up against a potent Anaheim offense?
- Can the Coyotes keep their foot on the gas? - The Coyotes jumped out to such a large lead that they were able to sit back and let the game come to them. It nearly did. Can the Coyotes at least out-shoot the Ducks in each period tonight?
Players to Watch
Anaheim - Andrew Cogliano - There is no team Andrew Cogliano likes to play more than the Coyotes. In his career, he has 28 points in 43 games against Phoenix/Arizona, and 12 goals.
Arizona - Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Lost in the hubbub of Brendan Perlini’s white-hot scoring stretch was a three assist night from OEL against the Jets. Although it was only Ekman-Larsson’s third multi-point game this season, Ekman-Larsson can put up a lot of points very quickly if given the opportunity.
Simon Despres and Nate Thompson are both on long-term injured reserve, while Nicolas Kerdiles and Clayton Stoner are on standard injured reserve. None are expected back until February at the earliest. The Ducks are completely healthy otherwise.
Arizona has Brad Richardson, Max Domi, and Ryan White on injured reserve. Jordan Martinook is still questionable after being knocked out of the Coyotes’ last meeting against Anaheim thanks to a dangerous slew-foot from Corey Perry. Alexander Burmistrov has finally cleared up his visa issues, but did not play last night in order to re-adjust to practicing regularly. He is considered questionable tonight.
Tonight’s game begins at 6 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Arizona Plus or listen on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.