After a five-game home stretch the Arizona Coyotes are back on the road, although they aren’t traveling that far as they head to Northern California to face off against the San Jose Sharks. The Coyotes home stretch featured some downsides, but there were positives that the Coyotes can hopefully build off of for the rest of this season and beyond.
View from Arizona
The Coyotes struggles this season have been well documented, but they have been playing objectively better recently this season. While some will say this is too little too late, the fact that the team doesn’t seem to be playing without emotion anymore is definitely a positive. The Coyotes aren’t content with losing, and while they are still going to continue to lose a lot this season, they seem to be at a point where they will hopefully be losing less spectacularly for the rest of the season.
You would be forgiven if you completely gave up when the Chicago Blackhawks were up 3-0 after the first period you could be forgiven. The Coyotes aren’t necessarily the "Come Back Kids" of this season, and even in their win streak they were never down by three goals. And granted they ended up losing in regulation, the fact that the final score is 4-3 is a small testament that the Coyotes are improving. Same with the 3-2 loss against the Kings, a tight game against a good team is something that should be celebrated for a team that is second to last in the league.
View from San Jose
In the NHL there are probably three teams that personify the concept of good in the regular season, yet a disappointment in the postseason, the Washington Capitals, the St Louis Blues, and the San Jose Sharks. That being said, when you see the Sharks playing well in the regular season this season, currently leading the Pacific Division, you have to wonder if that success will translate in the post season in a few months.
While the Coyotes just finished their first three game win streak, the Sharks aren’t far removed from a six game win streak that was only broken up by a 4-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers. After that loss they had a dominate 3-1 win against the Chicago Blackhawks (impressive) and a 4-1 win against the Vancouver Canucks (less impressive) before tonight’s game against the Desert Dogs.
1. Can the Coyotes play a full game? The Yotes first period against the Chicago Blackhawks ultimately doomed them. You could make a case that their inability to score in the third period against the Los Angeles Kings ultimately doomed them in that game. The Coyotes need to play 60 full minutes in order to get two points.
2. How will Domi play? Max Domi made his return to the Coyotes against the Blackhawks and the team is better for it. Looking at the score sheet you aren’t going to see Domi’s name, but few people can say that the team is worse off with Max Domi, and hopefully he will be helping to generate offense very soon.
3. Will the Coyotes mostly successful home series translate to road wins? The Coyotes were 3-2 at home and while they won against teams that mostly struggled, they also had tight games against teams that are likely going to be in the playoff. The home stretch may be the Yotes best stretch of the season, and hopefully they can continue that on the road.
Players to Watch
Arizona – Christian Dvorak. Many people hoped Dvorak would bring the dominance he shown in the OHL to the NHL, and unfortunately that didn’t happen. But all things considered he has been having an okay rookie season, especially on a team that is playing terribly. Against the Blackhawks he had a goal and an assist for his second multi point game of the season.
San Jose – Brent Burns. The closest thing to a human Chewbacca has been having an incredible season this year. With eight points in the past five games, Burns has shown why he was named an All Star this season. A fun fact about how well Burns has been playing this season is that he has only played in 16 games this season where he didn’t register a point.
With Domi returning to the Coyotes, Brad Richardson is the only Coyotes player that is out that is going to return this season that is still out. He skated this past week, which is a sign he could potentially be returning soon.
Joonas Donskoi is likely out until the middle of this month with an upper body injury, and Dylan Demelo is likely out until the middle of march with a broken wrist.
With Domi returning to the Coyotes, Brad Richardson is the only Coyotes player still out. He skated this past week, which is a sign he could potentially be returning soon.
Tonight’s game will be airing at 8:30 pm Arizona time on Fox Sports Arizona and on the radio at ESPN Phoenix 620 AM.