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Coyotes to Face the Devils They Know

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The Coyotes look to beat the Devils in a rematch that is their final meeting of the season.

NHL: Arizona Coyotes at New Jersey Devils Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The last time these two clubs met in the Garden State the Arizona Coyotes played one of their best games, but a few late penalties allowed the New Jersey Devils to take the win.

Much has changed since that night. The most important change for the Coyotes happened just hours before that game when they acquired goalie Scott Wedgewood from the team they were facing. The Devils recently made their own acquisition trading forwards Adam Henrique and Joseph Blandisi to the Anaheim Ducks for defenseman Sami Vatanen.

In addition to facing the Devils the Coyotes are also hosting an Operation Santa Claus Night which benefits Military Assistance Mission, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center, and St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance. Attendees are encouraged to bring an unwrapped toy to the game for the toy drive.

View From New Jersey

For more information on the Devils check out All About The Jersey.

The Devils are on the second night of a back-to-back. Last night they scraped out a hard fought 2-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche. Vatanen made his debut with the club and also contributed on their power play. After having faced 23 shots last night it would be unsurprising if the Devils rested their starting goalie Corey Schneider and played backup Keith Kinkaid instead.

The Devils are currently 2nd in the Metro Division with a chance to take first if they win tonight and the Columbus Bluejackets lose to the Washington Capitals. The Devils record of 15-6-4 is in no small part due to the stellar play of three of their rookies Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt and Will Butcher. All three are in the top five of scoring for the team just behind Taylor Hall who leads the team with 27 points.

View From Arizona

The Coyotes are also playing in a back-to-back but have the advantage of it being their first night. Tomorrow they will cross the Hoover Dam to face the Vegas Golden Knights for the fourth but not final time.

After having suffered their first shutout loss of the season to the Calgary Flames the Coyotes desperately need to bounce back. Goaltending was definitely not the problem as Wedgewood faced 44 shots but the team only generated 28 shots on goal. Regardless of who is in net for the Devils, the Coyotes will need to actually shoot the puck in order to score.

Three Questions

Which group of youngsters will come out on top?

The Devils aren’t the only team with an impressive group of younger players. The top three goal scorers for the Coyotes are all still on their entry level contracts: Clayton Keller, Brendan Perlini and Christian Fischer. Also this happened the last time we got to see Keller take on Hischier:

Will Wedgewood get the start against his former team?

Despite this being a back-to-back frankly it would be very surprising if he didn’t. For whatever reason the team has seemed reluctant to give Marek Langhamer a start. He’s only played in two NHL games to date and both were in relief. One thing is for sure they shouldn’t try starting Wedgewood in both games, they’ve tried it twice before with not great results.

Will the Coyotes be more disciplined than their last meeting with the Devils?

Two penalties in the third period ended up costing the Coyotes in their first game against the Devils. Since then the Coyotes penalty kill has improved from being the worst in October to being the best in November. Additionally the Devils power play has suffered going from 5th in October to 20th in November. Still the best way to avoid getting scored on in a power play is to not take penalties if they can be avoided.

Players to Watch

  • Arizona: Brendan Perlini has been quickly catching up to Keller’s hot start and is only two goals behind him for taking the top spot in most goals for the team. Also more of this please:

  • New Jersey: It would be easy to choose any of the exciting young rookies but Taylor Hall is still a phenomenal player. He is currently leading his team in points and tied for second in goals.

Injury Report

Arizona: D Jakob Chychrun (Week-to-week, knee), D Niklas Hjalmarsson (Day-to-day, upper body), G Antti Raanta (Day-to-day, upper body)

New Jersey: Kyle Palmieri (IR, broken foot) Mirco Mueller (IR, fractured clavicle)

Puck Drop

The Coyotes vs Devils can be viewed on Fox Sports Arizona, Fox Sports Go and NHL.tv at 6 p.m. Arizona time or over the radio with Bob Heethuis and Paul Bissonnette ‘Heeter and Biz’ on ESPN 620 AM.

Traffic Report

If you are going to be travelling through Downtown Phoenix be aware there will be some road closures for construction and the Electric Light Parade.