The Arizona Coyotes are still seeing growing pains as they search for their first win of the 2017-18 season, sitting last in the league with a 0-4-1 record, the only team yet to win a game. While this isn't exactly the start Arizona - the team and fans alike - had hoped for, there are still some diamonds to be found in the rough of it all. In Dallas tonight, the Coyotes will play a new-look Dallas Stars team that carries some new names along with a very familiar face.
View From Dallas
For an inside look at the Dallas Stars, head on over to Defending Big D for their game day preview.
Dallas added some impressive names to their roster over the summer, with goaltender Ben Bishop, forwards Alexander Radulov and Tyler Pitlick, and defenseman Marc Methot joining their ranks. The most familiar addition to Coyotes fans, however, was the signing of Martin Hanzal. Hanzal spent his whole NHL career in Arizona until he was sent to the Minnesota Wild just before the trade deadline last season and then signed with Dallas during free agency this summer.
Even with those offseason additions, however, the Stars aren’t faring much better than the Coyotes, with their own record only at 2-3-0. Coach Ken Hitchcock has been working to create a new team culture in Dallas, cultivating a strong stance on hard work and team chemistry. And with a completely new coaching staff and a host of new players to fit into the lineup, the Stars’ own growing pains seem to still be working themselves out.
View From Arizona
Despite the retooling and reworking the Arizona Coyotes had gone through over the summer and, so far, in the early parts of this season, Arizona still looks to be struggling to make it all fit together. The rookies and young guns have been both a force to reckoned with and a weakness at the same time, while consistency (mostly with the shaky defense and spotty goaltending) seems to the main monkey hanging on the team’s back. Yet in the midst of it all, head coach Rick Tocchet’s message remains the same: “Don’t panic.” Tocchet continues to point out that while the team is still working to find cohesion, there are a lot of positives to take away from their play so far and he sees a potentially bright future ahead.
With Antti Raanta still out and Marek Langhamer sent back down to Tucson, Adin Hill has been called up to fill the empty roster spot. As of Monday, Tocchet still had yet to decide who will be starting in net for the Coyotes but announced after today’s morning skate that Hill will be making his NHL debut. Zac Rinaldo has also served out the last of his five-game NHL suspension from the 2015-16 season and Tocchet confirmed that he will also make his Coyotes debut tonight.
Tonight’s clash in Dallas is the first of a home-and-home between the Stars and Coyotes, as they’ll play them again on Thursday at Gila River Arena.
Adin Hill NHL debut?
Head coach Rick Tocchet announced that Adin Hill will make his official NHL debut tonight against the Stars. While Hill has yet to play an NHL game in his career, his AHL stats seem promising, currently with a SV% of .968 and a GAA of 0.65 (SV% of .906 and GAA 3.16 in the 2016-17 AHL regular season). Hill’s latest game before being called up from Tucson, a 22 save shutout against the Bakersfield Condors (the Edmonton Oilers AHL affiliate), gives some hope as to his NHL potential.
New look Coyotes?
At team practice on Monday, Tocchet rolled out some new Coyotes lines that we’ve never seen before:
Domi - Stepan - Rieder
Keller - Dvorak - Duclair
Crouse - Cousins - Fischer
Rinaldo - Kempe - Martinook
There’s no telling if this is the lineup that Tocchet intends to go with in Dallas, but if their pregame skate stays the same, expect to see a new-look Coyotes on the ice tonight. Rinaldo will also make his Coyotes debut.
Will they finally get their first win?
The big question on everyone’s minds. On paper, this team is a fast, high scoring, and solidly defensive team, we just have yet to see it in action. There’s no need to panic yet, we’re only five games into the season, but the pressure is on to build chemistry and to execute the new systems Rick Tocchet has put in place.
Players to Watch
Arizona - Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Today’s game is a special one for Ekman-Larsson, as he will become the sixth defenseman in franchise history to skate in his 500th NHL game. While not looking quite like himself yet this season, look for OEL to be a driving force in play tonight. This will be the first game after head coach Rick Tocchet called him out to play better after the game against the Bruins on Saturday. The Stars have quite a few players known for taking penalties which would put Ekman-Larsson in the best place to shine on the powerplay.
Dallas - Martin Hanzal
The former Coyote has only one goal on his tally sheet so far, but could very well look to add to it against a familiar Arizona team. Although he has been battling injuries (that sounds familiar...), Hanzal has looked solid as a second/third line center for Dallas and has been a steadying presence for his young wingers.
Jakob Chychrun: Still on injured reserve after having knee surgery during the off-season. There is word that he might begin skating soon, though.
Antti Raanta: Sidelined with a day-to-day lower-body injury with no return timetable yet, hasn’t skated and did not travel with the team to Dallas
Kevin Connauton: Cleared and expected to play against the Stars, was paired with Demers during Monday’s practice before flying out to Dallas
Brendan Perlini: Eligible to come off of IR as of today (Tuesday) after suffering an upper-body injury in the game against Vegas, but didn’t travel with the team to Dallas. Possibly available to play on Thursday per Tocchet.
No injuries to report
Tonight’s game is at 5:30 PST and will be shown locally on Fox Sports-Arizona and Fox Sports Southwest and on the Fox Sports Go App. You can also listen to it on the radio in Arizona on 98.7FM.