The Arizona Coyotes have been playing hockey in the desert for the past 20 years. As the Coyotes prepare to honor some of their biggest names from last season, the current iteration of the Desert Dogs is adding to the festivities with some markedly improved play recently.
Tonight the Coyotes return to Gila River Arena to play the San Jose Sharks after promising wins against Pacific Division rivals on the road this past week.
View from San Jose
For more on the San Jose Sharks, check out Fear the Fin
San Jose occupies the top spot in the Pacific Division, and is a full 14 points clear of the first non-playoff team in the West, currently the Los Angeles Kings. The Sharks look poised to make another run back to the Stanley Cup Final, and though they’ve only won four of their last ten, they’ve managed to puck up at least a point in four additional games.
Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau have both cracked the 20 goal plateau, with Logan Couture not far behind. San Jose will likely do some tinkering around the margins as the Trade Deadline approaches, but there’s no immediate urgency to make a splash.
View from Arizona
The Coyotes are expected to welcome back to the ice such Coyotes’ luminaries as Teppo Numminen, Dallas Drake, Mike Gartner, Cliff Ronning, Craig Janney, and of course, Keith Tkachuk.
Their presence should evoke familiar memories of the fast-paced, hard-hitting Coyotes of old. That’s fortuituous timing, because the current Coyotes are starting to look far more like the team that kept America West Arena rocking in the late 90s.
Arizona is coming off of a 2-1-0 road trip where they scored 12 goals. Arizona is 6-3-1 in their last ten games, which includes victories over playoff teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Calgary Flames. The Coyotes are scoring in spades, playing fun hockey, and generally causing trouble for teams fighting for the postseason.
Players to Watch
San Jose - Brent Burns - Burns is having a season for the ages among defensemen, with a ridiculous 25 goals and 36 assists in 58 games. He really deserves Norris Trophy consideration this year, if not Hart Trophy consideration.
Arizona - Christian Dvorak - Dvorak has four goals and two assists in his last five games. The rookie center got off to a bit of a slow start, but has really blossomed recently.
Joonas Donskoi and Dylan Demelo are both not expected to play in the month of February.
Arizona is without Brad Richardson indefinitely, though he has resumed skating. Louis Domingue and Lawson Crouse are both considered questionable for tonight’s game.
Tonight’s game begins at 6 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Arizona or listen on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.