After a shut out loss against the Blues, the Arizona Coyotes are on their last big road trip of the season as they start a nine day, five game trip away from the Valley. First on the docket is the faltering Nashville Predators.
View from Arizona
The Coyotes have been a streaky team all season, but they do hold the season win record against the Predators already having won the last two meetings.
The Coyotes have called up on emergency Laurent Dauphin, meaning a center may be banged up from the game against the Blues. It could also mean someone is moving to wing while Shane Doan is injured.
Also called up is everyone’s favorite stay at home defenseman Zbynek Michalek. He has been down in Tucson with the Roadrunners and helping the young players adapt to professional hockey. Everyone at Five For Howling is happy to see him back with the Coyotes and are hopeful he finishes his season with the team.
They will be looking for scoring tonight so hopefully the power play can kick into gear or they can score by getting behind the Preds stellar defensemen.
View from Nashville
For more on the Nashville Predators, check out On The Forecheck
The Nashville Predators are hanging onto the second wild card for dear life as the teams below them in the standings start to slow down. With the Los Angeles Kings six points behind them, they cannot feel too comfortable where they are in the standings.
This year showed a lot of change with the Preds, including waiving and sending down Mike Ribeiro and trading for P.K. Subban in the offseason. They are depending on their stellar defense to get them through some games, but their offense is deadly as well.
Viktor Arvidsson has 26 goals and 26 assists for 52 points in 69 games. This 23 year old left wing has come up huge for the Preds when they need him to. Filip Forsberg is also starting to get hot after having some down times this season with 29 goals and 25 assists for 54 points in 71 games. You can’t forget Roman Josi who is leading their blueline and has 11 goals and 32 assists for 43 points in 62 games.
Pekka Rinne has two modes this season, stop nothing or stop everything. The last two times these teams met the Coyotes won.
- Can the Coyotes stay out of the box? - This has been a constant theme through out the season, but really, the Coyotes do have seven short handed goals for this season. So maybe that’s their plan?
- Can the Coyotes compete with Nashville’s defense? - Roman Josi, P.K. Subban, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm are a dangerous top four. The Preds have a lot of skill on the back end and they like to make teams lives difficult. The forwards will need to keep this in mind to win this game.
- Can the Coyotes get to Pekka Rinne? - Pekka Rinne has two modes really good and really bad. You never know what you’re going to get. Getting to Rinne early and often will help their chances against the 6’5” Finnish goalie.
Players to Watch
Predators - Roman Josi- Again Josi is leading their blueline and has 11 goals and 32 assists for 43 points in 62 games. He has lost a little bit of the rhythm he had last season when Shea Weber was traded but he is still holding his own.
Arizona - Oliver Ekman-Larsson - OEL has had a terrible season, but he is starting to get back into the swing of things. Can he find his game against some of the best defensemen in the league?
For the Preds Colin Smith is day to day with an undisclosed injury and Mikka Salomaki is still on IR for a lower body injury, even though he was sent to Milwaukee for a bit on a ‘long term injury loan’.
Kevin Connauton, Brad Richardson, and Alexander Burmistrov are all out indefinitely, while Shane Doan is questionable for tonight’s game.
Tonight’s game gets underway at 5 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Arizona or listen on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.