The Arizona Coyotes are perhaps coming off the high point of their season. With their victory over the Kings Sunday night the Coyotes officially eliminated Los Angeles from playoff contention.
As the Coyotes look to finish the season on a high note, they face a tough Dallas opponent who they have not beat since March of last year.
View from Arizona
Towards the end of March the Arizona Coyotes once again struggled with scoring and winning games. From March 18th to the 29th they went 1-6 and only scored 10 goals. But since then they have gone 2-0 with two huge wins against the best team in the league the Washington Capitals and eliminated their division rival the L.A. Kings from playoff contention while scoring 8 goals in those 2 games. Pair this recent goal outburst with the fact that the Stars have struggled with goaltending all night and the Coyotes may just have a chance to beat Dallas for the first time in a year.
At this point in the season with only a few games left everyone is trying to audition for next season. I would expect to see the young guns getting a lot more play time in these last few games and I wouldn’t be surprised if Tippett decides to switch up the lines.
View from Dallas
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For a team that finished with 109 points and was the best in the west last year, this season has been a major disappointment for the Dallas Stars whose playoff hopes ended a long time ago. Dallas is coming off a tough 3-6 loss to Tampa and are 5-4-1 in their last ten games.
One of the major reasons Dallas struggled this season was because of the performances they are getting in net from Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi. Lehtonen is currently 21-24-7 with a 2.80 GAA and a .904 save percentage. While former Stanley Cup winner Antti Niemi who is in the midst of the worst season in his career is 11-12-4 with a 3.31 GAA and a .892 save percentage. One bright spot for the stars this season has been the performance of rookie center Devin Shore. Shore, who was a 2nd round pick in 2012 currently has the 14th most points this season by a rookie this season with 12 goals and 20 assists.
With the season winding down and both teams out of the playoff race only pride is on the line for tonights match. I expect a scrappy and chippy game as both teams try to finish their season on a positive note.
- Will the Coyotes end their recent woes against Dallas? - Dallas has had the Coyotes number all season long. They have beaten them twice this year and like I mentioned earlier the Coyotes haven’t beat them since March 25th 2016. Will they do it tonight? With Dallas in a rut and the Coyotes coming off two big wins, I think it could happen.
- Will Anthony Duclair score again? - Like a lot of players Anthony Duclair suffered a sophomore slump this season and after putting up 44 points last year only has 14 this season. It is way too early to give up on such a young and talented player but Duclair may have gotten the weight off his shoulders after he scored for the first time since being called back up from Tucson. A few more points in these last 3 games could work wonders for The Duke.
- Can the Coyotes contain the Dynamic duo of Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn? When it comes to offense Dallas is led by a one two punch consisting of two of the most offensively gifted players in the league. Jamie Benn is currently 22nd in the league in points with 25 goals and 42 assists. While Seguin is 14th in the league with 25 goals and 45 assists. If the Coyotes want any chance of winning tonights game they cannot let Seguin and Been heat up or it could be disastrous.
Players to Watch
Arizona - Christian Dvorak - The kids are gonna be alright for the Coyotes and Dvorak is just one of the rookies who is showing just why. Over the last few games he has been one of the Coyotes best players with 6 points in his last 10 games including two goals against the Capitals. His 31 points are the most by a rookie for the Coyotes this season. When it comes to potential the sky is the limit for this kid.
Dallas - John Klingberg - A Swedish defenseman with a knack for scoring? Who would have thought... Klingberg is by far the most offensively gifted D-Man on the Stars. His 13 goals and 34 assists is good enough for the 11th most points by a defenseman in the league.
Arizona - Due to the tragic loss of his mother. Oliver Ekman-Larsson has been granted a leave of absence from the team. He will return home to Sweden and miss the rest of the season. Jamie McGinn is away from the team tending to a personal matter and it will be unclear if he returns tonight. Radim Vrbata has been ruled out for tonight’s game by Dave Tippett earlier this morning.
Dallas - The Stars were hit hard by the injury bug this season with 3 key players inclduing Patrick Sharp already out for the season. They enter tonights game with Brett Ritchie, Jamie Oleksiak and Ales Hemsky all questionable for tonights game with lower body injuries. Wingers Curtis McKenzie and Jiri Hudler are out indefinitely. McKenzie suffered a gruesome eye laceration from a high stick last Thursday. While Hudler is suffering from a lower body injury.
Tonights game is at 5:30 PM Mountain Time. You can listen to it on ESPN Phoenix 620 AM or watch it on Fox Sports Arizona Plus.