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Coyotes need to bring pressure to bear on Bruins

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Two teams that urgently need a win will face off tonight in the desert.

NHL: Boston Bruins at Arizona Coyotes Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

If the Arizona Coyotes aren’t getting desperate for a win yet, their fans are. Starting the season with a 0-3-1 record isn’t what anyone wanted from the revamped, reworked and reconstituted team. Tonight the Coyotes have a chance to flip the script on the Boston Bruins, a team they haven’t beaten since 2010, in Prague, Czech Republic.

View from Boston

Head on over to Stanley Cup of Chowder for the latest on the Boston Bruins.

The Bruins are coming off two losses to the Colorado Avalanche in a home and home series played on Monday and Wednesday. Their current record of 1-2-0 has them at 6th in the Atlantic Division just ahead of Montreal and Buffalo. Backup goalie Anton Khudobin will be getting his first start of the season after a strong showing in Colorado on Wednesday when Tuukka Rask was pulled. Although Head Coach Bruce Cassidy didn’t want to label the need for a strong start as desperate he did say there needs to be more urgency. This will be the first game of a desert back-to-back for the Bruins as they face the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday.

View From Arizona

The Coyotes are showing signs of improvement but haven’t be able to bring all of it together for a full game yet. On the positive side, the team spent more time in the offensive zone, won more faceoffs and defended much better, albeit not perfectly, in Thursday’s game. Consistency from every player on every shift is the key to getting the win that the team so badly needs.

Adding to the Coyotes injury woes, Antti Raanta has been listed as day-to-day with a lower body injury after only playing the first period of the game versus Detroit. Louis Domingue is likely to start tonight’s game and Marek Langhamer was recalled from the Tucson Roadrunners as a potential backup.

Three Questions

Will the first line stay together?

The first line of Max Domi, Derek Stepan and Clayton Keller has been the most effective and the most productive. Domi and Keller are tied for leading the team in points with four a piece. Recently though there has been talk of the possibility of using either Keller and/or Domi in the center position. Keller was a natural center through his junior and college careers so far though he hasn’t had to face NHL opposition in the position.

Who will be in goal?

With Raanta’s lower body injury it is probable that Domingue will start, even if he does which Domingue will show up? Currently he only has a .885 save percentage but Coyotes fans know that Domingue can play better because they’ve seen it. From January to April of last season he had a .921 save percentage but again he started off the season poorly with a save percentage of .895 from October to December. If springtime Domingue could show up early it would really help the team.

Can the team put it all together?

The team played it’s best game to date against Detroit on Thursday but just a few small mistakes led to another loss. The defense was better but certainly not perfect and there was goal or two that Domingue should have had. If the team continues to play that way for a full 60 minutes a mark in the win column will happen sooner rather than later.

Players To Watch

Arizona – Clayton Keller

He is tied for first in points and is first in goals for the team. Regardless of which position he ends up playing Keller is an exciting player to watch. He is relentless on the puck particularly around the net.

BruinsCharlie McAvoy

Formerly a teammate of Keller’s at Boston University and on the gold-medal winning World Junior Championship’s Team USA, McAvoy is an exciting young defender on the Bruins. He is one of the few defense candidates that may be able to challenge Keller for the Calder Trophy. Currently he leads all defenders in goals and points on the Bruins with one goal and one assist in three games played. In his rookie year he is averaging 19:45 minutes a night and is the third defender behind Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara for time-on-ice.

Injury Report

Coyotes:

Jakob Chychrun: Still on injured reserve after having knee surgery over the off-season. There is word that he might begin skating soon, though.

Zac Rinaldo: Serving the final game of a five-game suspension he received two years ago.

Kevin Connauton: Missed practice with an injury and will not play tonight.

Brendan Perlini: (upper-body) Injured in the first period of the game at Vegas was placed on injured reserve.

Bruins

Patrice Bergeron (lower-body) skated toward the end of Friday’s practice but isn’t likely to be in the lineup tonight.

David Backes (illness) was diagnosed with diverticulitis and is expected to miss 3-to-4 weeks, he should return to the Bruins lineup in late-October or early-November.

Noel Acciari (upper-body) underwent surgery to repair a left index finger fracture that occurred in the Bruins’ home opener and is expected to miss six weeks.

Puck Drop

Tonight’s game is at 6:00 PM at Gila River Arena and will be shown locally on Fox Sports-Arizona and New England Sports Network, and heard on ESPN 620 AM and 98.5 The Sports Hub (Boston).

When heading to the arena don’t forget there are road closures to note: