Fresh off their first regulation win of the season, the Arizona Coyotes continue their road trip of northern exposure, playing their fourth straight game against a Canadian team. This time, it's the Ottawa Senators playing host to the Desert Dogs for a Saturday matinee at the Tire Centre.
View from Ottawa
For the Senators side of this matchup, visit Silver Seven Sens.
Ottawa has been a team of heavy firepower in the early going, with a sterling mark of 3.5 goals per game, the 5th highest in the league. All-World defenseman Erik Karlsson (17 points in 12 games) of course has been a huge part of that, but so too has the play of the Hoffman-Brassard-Stone line. Stone's 12 goals are the fourth most in the league, five of which have come in his last five games.
Goaltending has been less than stellar for the Sens, though, with neither Craig Anderson nor Mike Condon shining bright in the early going. So while this is a team that can undeniably score, there's also holes to exploit there.
All of this coalesces to a team that's been good-not-great. Seven of their 17 games have gone to extra time, and they feel just as likely to be blown out as they are to be the ones doing the blowing out.
View from Arizona
Of course, it's worth looking inward when talking of inconsistency. Arizona's first regulation win against Montreal could best be described as a gutsy effort, overcoming three deficits, including a 2-0 one in the first period before blanking the Habs in the final frame.
But it was the first regulation win of the season for a reason. The Coyotes have had a hard time keeping it together for a whole game, so it'll be interesting to see how the team responds to getting the monkey off its back.
Which Swede reigns supreme?
This game will feature the cream of the crop when it comes to Swedish puck-moving defensemen. Oliver Ekman-Larsson has been a bright spot in otherwise lukewarm Coyotes season, whereas Karlsson has been his usual force of nature since returning from injury. It's unfair to directly compare the two, and their respective roles for their team, but both are a huge part. Expect some key plays from the sticks of both of these Swedes.
Can the Coyotes keep the offense coming?
The Coyotes are coming off one of their most balanced offensive performances of the season. And boy, does that feel good coming from what's been the worst offensive team in the league so far. The Senators aren't the league's worst in net by any means, but can the Coyotes keep getting everyone involved?
Will something new click?
Neither Max Domi nor Clayton Keller have been the same offensive dynamos since being separated as linemates. It's hard to tell if their torrid place slowing down has been worth players like Tobias Rieder, the Christians Dvorak and Fischer, as well as Anthony Duclair finding more consistent play as of late, but the Coyotes' two best playmakers haven't looked as comfortable as when they were together just yet.
Players to Watch
Arizona - Max Domi
Arizona's young winger is deep in a 7 game scoring drought, and hasn't helped his case in the defensive zone. But good players break out of slumps. Is there a monster game waiting for Domi?
Ottawa - Matt Duchene
Karlsson is a true delight to watch, but Matt Duchene will be the more interesting storyline. While Ottawa's top line has been torching people, the line centered by Duchene hasn't quite figured it out yet. Which is fair, given it'll be only his fourth game with the team since being traded for Kyle Turris and Andrew Hammond. But he's oh-fer in those three games, but he may be due. His five shots on goal against Pittsburgh lead all skaters.
Niklas Hjalmarsson is still out with an upper-body injury.
Jakob Chychrun is still out with his knee surgery recovery.
Chris Wideman out with a torn hamstring
Zack Smith out with a thumb injury
Clarke MacArthur out with an undisclosed injury