With one last game before the NHL takes off for the holiday break, the Arizona Coyotes meet the Colorado Avalanche tonight at home on Women’s Hockey Appreciation Night. After a nail-biting win against the Washington Capitals in OT the night before, the Coyotes look to add another one to their Christmas list.
View From Colorado
For more information on the Colorado Avalanche and their preview, go to Mile High Hockey.
After a two-game suspension, defenseman Erik Johnson will be returning to Colorado’s lineup and their top defensive pairing with Nikita Zadorov. Much like the Coyotes, the Avalanche have had a secondary scoring problem. If Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon, or Gabriel Landeskog aren’t scoring, then no one else’s name seems to be making the Colorado score sheet. There’s a good possibility they could take advantage of a potentially-tired Arizona team and get their secondary scoring in gear to top the Coyotes.
View From Arizona
That being said, Arizona’s troubles have been many as of late but scoring seems to be finally coming back. After snapping a 7-game losing streak to the Washington Capitals the night before off an OT game-winning goal from rookie star Clayton Keller, the Coyotes have quite a few advantages to bring to the table.
As evidenced on their last road trip, a young team means a fast team and that also means their performance on back-to-backs is improving. While young may mean somewhat inexperienced, it also means they’re less easy to tire, even on the end of a back-to-back. Look for their fast-paced game to still be in place with the young lineup that coach Tocchet will be fielding.
Clayton Calder? With another goal under his belt, will Clayton Keller be back to his goal-scoring ways and insert himself more firmly into the Calder Trophy race once again?
Anthony Duclair Returns? Duclair has had another shaky season and his recent healthy-scratch status has been noticeable for the last two games. He’ll be on the roster tonight, drawing in for Brendan Perlini, so here’s to hoping he finds his touch soon.
Can the Coyotes head off MacKinnon, Rantanen? The Avalanche have quite a few good forwards and Arizona should fully expect for tonight's match-ups to be anything but easy. With the Coyotes still shaky on their defense, with missing Niklas Hjalmarsson and even with the return of Jakob Chychrun, the Colorado offense will be a tough one to keep at bay.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Christian Fischer - With his “insurance” goal last night to tie it up against the Capitals, look for this particular forward to play a hard-nosed game and help the team in any way he can against the Avalanche. (I easily could’ve said Clayton Keller, but we’ll all be watching him already anyway.)
Colorado: Nathan MacKinnon - With the exception of Mikko Rantanen, MacKinnon has easily been the Avalanche’s best forward for the past 2-3 seasons. The Cole Harbor native is a best friend and training partner of Sidney Crosby and has obviously learned quite a bit from him. If any Avalanche player is almost guaranteed to make the score sheet, it’s Nathan MacKinnon.
Niklas Hjalmarsson is still out with an upper-body injury and is on IR.
Vladislav Kamenev suffered a broken arm on November 16th and is on IR, out indefinitely.
Puck drop is at 6PM AZ time on Fox Sports Arizona Plus and Fox Sports Go. You can also hear the call by Heeter and Biz on ESPN AM620.