This is the second of three season tilts between the Arizona Coyotes and the Dallas Stars, the first of which came in late December at Gila River Arena. The Stars emerged with a 3-2 victory, with Jason Spezza notching a goal and an assist on the evening.
While the Coyotes are forced to play on the road for the second time in two nights, the Stars should be plenty rested, as their last outing came nearly a week ago in the form of a 4-3 overtime victory over Tampa Bay.
View From Arizona
8-5-1 in their last fourteen games, this has certainly been a more entertaining Coyotes team to watch than the one that took the ice during earlier stretches of the 2016-17 season. Rookies like Christian Dvorak and Jakob Chychrun are starting to come into their own as formidable nightly NHL fixtures, an encouraging sign for Arizona fans.
However, the Coyotes are fresh off a sobering defeat at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks, one in which Mike Smith stopped only 23 of the 29 shots he faced. Arizona might have more speed and skill than in years past, but engaging the juggernaut Blackhawks in a loosely-defended, up-and-down battle could be considered a recipe for disaster by some.
View From Dallas
For more info on the Dallas Stars, check out Defending Big D.
The 2016-17 campaign has been lackluster for the Stars, who are only seven points ahead of Arizona in the Western Conference standings, and have played one more game. It would take an impressive surge for Dallas to finish the season in playoff position.
They return to action tonight for the first time since Saturday, Feb. 18, marking the end of a week of mid-season rest. They’ll be looking to right the ship after going 2-7-0 so far during the month of February.
1. Can the Coyotes rally on minimal rest? - Playing the Blackhawks on the road is a tall order in itself. Make it the first half of a back-to-back on the road, and you’ve got yourself a bona fide test of willpower. Arizona might have to slow things down a bit to stay competitive in this one.
2. Will potential trade assets prove their worth? - With the March 1 trade deadline fast approaching, all eyes continue to be on Martin Hanzal, the subject of a variety of trade rumors. Radim Vrbata, who is riding a career-long seven game point streak, is also under scrutiny of teams looking to add offensive firepower before the season’s final stretch.
3. Can Dallas overcome “bye week” fatigue? - NHL teams this year are 4-12-4 in their first game back from the newly instituted week-long “bye.” Will Dallas be one of the few to buck the trend? Facing a tired Coyotes team surely won’t hurt.
Players to Watch
Arizona - Max Domi - Although he hasn’t found the back of the net recently, the sophomore is returning to form as the Coyotes’ premier playmaker. Look for him to jump start the offense tonight and perhaps tickle the twine once for himself.
Dallas - Antoine Roussel - Coming off his first career hat trick last Saturday against the Lightning, Roussel has found continued success against Arizona during his NHL career. He has seven points in 12 career games against the Coyotes, including his first NHL goal in his 2013 debut.
Arizona - Coyotes centerman Brad Richardson remains out with a leg injury, which he suffered in November 2016, and Lawson Crouse is on injured reserve with a lower body injury.
Dallas- The Stars are without winger Adam Cracknell (lower-body), winger Ales Hemsky (hip) and defenseman Johnny Oduya (lower-body), although reports indicate Oduya is nearing his return.
Tonight’s game starts at 6:30pm Arizona time. You can watch it on Fox Sports Arizona Plus, Fox Sports Go or listen to it on ESPN Radio Phoenix 620 AM.