The Coyotes got that elusive first win last night in Philadelphia and they will look to keep the good vibes going tonight as they travel to Detroit to take on the Red Wings. October was a cruel month to the Coyotes, as they suffered just about every setback imaginable.
Whether it was poor play, injuries, blown leads or just bad luck, this team had to go through a lot the past 31 days and it really can’t end soon enough. There is just one last order of business to take care of tonight and the Coyotes will look to at least end things on a positive note. Getting the first win out of the way last night was obviously huge, so maybe that will help them shake off some demons and get this season somewhat back on track.
View From Detroit
Detroit has also been going through a bit of a tough stretch. Their 3-2 shootout win over the Florida Panthers last Saturday was their first win in seven games and their last regulation win came all the way back on October 13th.
Detroit was predicted to finish near the bottom of the standings by most hockey experts and while they came out of the gate strong, they’ve started to look more like the team everyone thought they would be. They score at one of the lowest rates in the league at five-on-five and are in the bottom-ten in the league both in terms of shots allowed & shot created.
If there is a team that you want to play on the second half of a back-to-back, the Red Wings are not a bad choice. They’re not going to create much offense or play with the puck, so Arizona might have a chance to take control of this game and play the way they want to.
Checkout Winging It In Motown for their preview of this game
View From Arizona
There’s some news to catch up on since last night. First of all, the Coyotes are no longer winless! Have I reminded you about it?
Okay, let’s move on then. Unfortunately, some bad news came out of the game last night, as Niklas Hjalmarsson took a few big hits in the third & left the game with an upper-body injury. He will not play tonight and there’s no word on how long he will be out. Goaltender Louis Domingue was also sent to the Tucson Roadrunners of the AHL and defenseman Joel Hanley was called up. No word on if he’ll play tonight, but he is up as the seventh defenseman for now.
Also of note is that Scott Wedgewood will make his second consecutive start. It’s not a huge surprise, as it’s unlikely the Coyotes are going to start Hunter Miska, but playing a goalie two days in a row is always a risk. This is especially true for someone who has less than five NHL starts and only joined the team just a few days ago.
Wedgewood was solid in his first game and didn’t have to do much work until the third period when the Flyers were pressing, so maybe he has a lot of energy left. Arizona has been desperate for a big save or two regardless, so Wedgewood has a good chance to stick on this team if he plays well.
Who controls the pace?
It might be different on the second half of a back-to-back, but the Coyotes have made it a point to play at a high pace and use their speed to their advantage all season. They’ve jumped on teams early in games before & tonight is a good chance to do the same. Detroit is the polar opposite, as they like to play more of a slow, methodical game, which is something the Coyotes might get lulled into if fatigue sets in. Look for this in the first period.
Can the Richardson line keep it up?
The checking line of Martinook-Richardson-Fischer got a lot of ice time last night & it was well earned. They were the Coyotes best unit through the first 40+ minutes and did a lot of great work on the forecheck. When playing with a lead, you need a line like this to at least kill time off the clock and keep play in the offensive zone. A goal every once and awhile is nice too, but protecting the lead is where they’re the most valuable and it’s something Arizona has struggled with all season. Look for this line to get deployed a lot if Arizona gets an early goal.
Who steps up on defense?
With the Hjalmarsson injury, there is going to be a lot of extra minutes up for grabs. Ekman-Larsson, Demers & Goligoski are likely going to have to make them up by-committee, but it will be interesting to see who slides into Hjalmarsson’s spot in the top four. Arizona has found some stability with the OEL-Demers top pair, it’s been a mess behind that and this obviously isn’t helping the cause.
Players To Watch
Arizona - Christian Fischer: He had a very strong game last night and look for him to get a goal or at least a few chances. Detroit doesn’t have defensemen who can handle pressure well while breaking the puck out & being strong on the forecheck is his specialty. This is the type of game that he can excel in and maybe get a goal off a rebound or two.
Detroit – Andreas Athanasiou: He finally returned to the Red Wings lineup last week after a long contract dispute that bled into the regular season. He scored in their last game & is one of the few players on their team that brings the element of speed. Arizona’s defensemen could have problems containing him off the rush, especially without Hjalmarsson. Travis Konecny did some damage to them in this area last night and it’s an area where Arizona has been exploited often this year.
Niklas Hjalmarsson: Suffered an upper-body injury last night and there’s no timetable for his return.
Jakob Chychrun: No news on this front except that he started skating again recently and is out indefinitely for the time being.
Danny Dekeyser: He’s currently dealing with an ankle injury and will be out another few weeks.
Johan Franzen: Placed on LTIR before the season.
Make your Halloween plans accordingly, because this will be a 4:30 PST puck drop on Fox Sports Arizona. It can also be listened to on ESPN 620.