Like most weeks for fans of the Arizona Coyotes, this week has been one filled with turmoil, then hope, and then turmoil again.
When the Coyotes play well offensively, the defense goes missing. When the defense is on point, the Sedona Red dry up and can’t score. When both the offense and defense are finally firing together, Mike Smith has an off night. And on all other nights when neither the offense or defense show up, Mike Smith stands on his head and shows us why he deserves to go to the All Star Game.
But Arizona continue to lose. They head into their second game of an icy road trip against the Winnipeg Jets, the same team they have most recently defeated. Sound familiar?
View from Arizona
Nothing new to see here except Alex Burmistrov’s debut for the Coyotes against the Edmonton Oilers. Burmistrov recorded a very deliberate assist on Radim Vrbata’s lone goal for Arizona as the desert dogs offensive stayed as elusive as Hilary Clinton has been post-election.
The loss against the Oilers could have been avoided if not for a 2 minute long defensive lapse midway through the 2nd period where Edmonton were able to pile on goals in a very quick succession.
Defensemen Jacob Chychrun in particular looked tired and lost during the defeat and may be rested more often as the brutality of his first pro season begins to stack up. Chychrun has already played 34 games for the Coyotes in his debut season and for comparison Oliver Ekman-Larsson only played 48 in his rookie year. Of course OEL had to adapt to the North American rink and game, but it still demonstrates how highly Chychrun is rated as a defender within the Arizona franchise.
View from Winnipeg
For more on the Jets, check out Arctic Ice Hockey.
It is do or die time for the Winnipeg Jets and the pushing of the big red button that says “HELP” or “SCRAMBLE” or “MELTDOWN” or any number of words associated with desperation is symbolized in the recent recalling of former starting goaltender Ondrej Pavelec.
With neither Connor Hellebuyck or Michael Hutchinson performing adequately, Winnipeg are turning back to the man who the aforementioned goalies were brought in to replace. And by bringing back Pavelec, a goalie who is as much maligned as the men who failed to keep him in the AHL, the Jets are admitting to the world that Hellebuyck and Hutchinson have failed as starters in the 2016-17 season.
After failing to record a comeback against the fast starting Coyotes’ last Friday, Winnipeg have gone on to lose both games since against the LA Kings and San Jose Sharks en-route to scoring only 4 goals while giving up 8. Now they’re sitting in 6th place in the Wild Card standings, 12 points ahead of the 7th placed Coyotes but only 4 points behind the 2nd placed LA Kings. The Jets will hold on hope that they don’t fall out of range of the main pack.
To make matters worse, the Jets are still without Patrik Laine.
- Will Pavelec get the start for the Jets and will Winnipeg’s goaltender of choice have a steady night? - All the Jets can hope for in net is some consistency, they’re not asking anything extreme of their goaltenders. Will Pavelec stone the Sedona Red or will Winnipeg’s goal-tending woes continue?
- Will Arizona’s offense spark again? - Since last playing the Jets, the Coyotes’ offense has dried up. Will it emerge again against the team it last reared its head for?
- How will Alex Burmistrov’s night play out? - In only his second game as a Coyote, Burmistrov will take on his former team. After recording an assist in his Arizona debut, will he continue to produce points against the team that had no use for him? Or will he go quietly into the night as the Jets prove they’ve moved on?
Players to Watch
Arizona - Oliver Ekman-Larsson - In 14 career games against the Winnipeg Jets, OEL has 11 point, with 7 of those being goals. In his last outing against the Jets he recorded 3 assists for 3 points, so look for the stunning Swede to try and make some nifty plays tonight.
Winnipeg - Ondrej Pavelec - All eyes will be on Ondrej Pavelec as he makes his season debut for the Winnipeg Jets in 2016-17. Will his return be the beginning of the end for the Jets? Or will it stabilize their shaky season?
For the Coyotes, Ryan White and Jordan Martinook remain questionable to play tonight but may make surprise appearances. Meanwhile, Max Domi and Brad Richardson remain on injured reserve.
For the Jets, Ben Chiarot has recently been moved to injured reserve. There he joins the sidelined Patrik Laine, Marko Dano and Tyler Myers.
Action gets underway at 5:30 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Arizona or listen on ESPN 620 AM.