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Game Preview: Coyotes (0-5-1) vs Dallas Stars (3-3-0) - Ahead By A Century

After meeting Dallas in a rehearsal for this game barely two days ago the Coyotes welcome the dangerous Stars to Gila River with Stars ahead by a century in the morale stakes and the Coyotes still looking for their first win.

Arizona Coyotes v Dallas Stars Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Nothing new, besides, no one's interested in something you didn't do”

The Tragically Hip: “Wheat Kings

Gord Downie sadly passed away yesterday, leaving Canada (and hockey) without arguably one of its greatest songwriters and poets, but those words might have been written about the start to Arizona’s season. Losing is already nothing new for the ‘Yotes, and they will look to change that against a Dallas team they ran closely in their last game. That game showed improvement, but ultimately ended in a 3-1 loss - and like Gord says - if you don’t win, nobody’s interested in how close you came.

Tonight sees another chance to finally stop the slump, and bring some good feeling back to an Arizona team that’s already starting to feel the heat from some sections of the fanbase.

View From Dallas

For more information on the Stars and their preview go to Defending Big D

The Stars were unhappy with their performance against the Coyotes, and as team leader Jamie Benn will be more motivated than ever to avoid going down to defeat against Arizona tonight, as will his teammates - Stars do not want to be the first to register a loss against Arizona this season. The Stars will see changes tonight as hulking blueliner Jamie Oleksiak comes back into the lineup for Julius Honka. Sitting at .500 right now, this is an important game for them to get into the black on the wins ledger, especially as a loss will have the double blow of sending them into the red on the balance sheet once again.

View From Arizona

At this point, the view in Arizona couldn’t get much gloomier. Rick Tocchet has already called out his alternate captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson for not performing well enough, and admitted that certain ‘Yotes performances this season have made him embarrassed for ‘Yotes fans. Tonight Adin Hill will likely get his second start after an impressive showing in a losing debut. His first NHL win couldn’t come at a better time for the Coyotes both in league positioning and, more importantly, morale around the entire hockey club. The season has only been seven games long, but the ‘Yotes are desperate to get out of this slump, and as Defending Big D rightly point out, they’ll play like a team with nothing more to lose tonight.

Three Questions

How good can Adin Hill be - and can he start a goalie controversy?

The 21-year-old goalie gave Coyotes fans reasons to be cheerful in his first NHL start - enough to likely get a second chance this evening. He’s long been touted as someone who can be the future of Arizona in net. With Louis Domingue unconvincing and Antti Raanta injured, the door is wide open for him to force his way into the conversation for a starting spot - can he cement his case and be lionized as a goalie tonight?

When will the Yotes start scoring?

So far the ‘Yotes have only scored an average of just under two goals a game, while conceding over three. That is a trend that needs to change - the puck needs to start hitting the net. Only two players on the team (Tobias Rieder and Clayton Keller) have more than one goal this season - key forwards like Derek Stepan and Christian Dvorak are still yet to find the net. There has to be a time when pucks will start finding the net because, after all, there’s no fifty-mission-cap on goal scoring - the question is, how soon will it be? The sooner the better.

Is desperate hockey good hockey?

The Coyotes now have nothing to lose - things can’t get much worse in terms of performance and league position than they already are. That, in one sense, is an advantage - it frees the Coyotes of any real worry. There’s always talk of playing on emotion being an advantage in the NHL - can the Coyotes channel their anger and frustration into a fury that can be turned on their opponents rather than themselves?

Players to Watch

Dallas: Mattias Janmark (LW) - Let’s face it - it’s easy to pick Jamie Benn or Tyler Seguin here, but also a little lazy. We know how good they are. Janmark is a quick young forward who scored 15 goals in his first NHL season before a joint condition in his knee sidelined him for all of last season and came close to ending his career. The Stars welcomed him back after he was declared fit to play this year and so far he’s repaid them with four points (2+2) in six games from the second line. He’s far better than many realize and will be a danger to the Coyotes tonight.

Arizona: Derek Stepan (C) - Stepan has not had the start he’d have hoped for in AZ, scoring only three points in six games on the top line (all assists) and working very hard for little reward. Him finding his game will be key to the ‘Yotes going forward, and he is likely one of the veteran players Tocchet was referring to when saying that there were some ‘Yotes “not playing as they should”. Tonight, against very tough opposition in Seguin and Jason Spezza, will see him tested to the full-if he can win the battle against one of them down the middle, it could be a key to the Coyotes success.

Injury Report

Arizona - Antti Raanta (day to day, lower body) Brad Richardson (day-to-day, lower body), Jakob Chychrun (IR, knee), Brendan Perlini (IR, upper body)

Dallas: none

Puck Drop

Tonight’s game is at 7 p.m. Mountain Time, broadcast on Fox Sports Arizona and Fox Sports Southwest - or on the NHL Network and Fox Sports GO for those outside the Arizona and Dallas broadcast markets. Radio is, as usual on the Arizona Coyotes Radio Network (stations across AZ state markets can be found here). Of course, follow FFH Twitter at @five4howling for live Tweets of the game.