As the season draws to an end, we can take a look back at the best and worst of times. The amazing rookies and the injuries to vets who make a difference. From an almost certain tragedy in Tucson and celebrate the life of an amazing player who beat some heavy odds and skated for the first time since November last week. This year has shown how strong the team and fans are, how Arizona Coyotes hockey is a family and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The Coyotes had a rough season this year and tonight they can end on a high note, beating one of the best teams in the Central Division.
View From Minnesota
The Wild are 5-3-2 in their last 10 games and on a three game winning streak going into their last game of the season. There is a possibility that Bruce Boudreau could rest some of his more valuable players this evening since they have clinched their playoff spot and cannot catch up to the Chicago Blackhawks. They also are on the chase for a franchise point record if they beat the Coyotes in regulation or get one point in an OT/SO loss.
It looks like backup Darcy Kuemper will be the starter this evening, giving Devan Dubnyk a rest before the playoffs start on Wednesday. Martin Hanzal and Ryan White are back in the Valley for the first time since the trade on February 26th. It will be strange to see Hanzal in a different uniform after all these years, but hopefully he can help the Wild get past the Blues and deep into the playoffs.
View From Arizona
Tonight could be a night of firsts and lasts. Clayton Keller will most likely play this evening, giving him one last shot to show home fans what he’s got before the summer starts. The other youth have a chance to impress the coaches for jobs next season as well. This could also be the last time we see Zbynek Michalek play in the NHL. Michalek was confirmed yesterday to be plaything this evening in an interview for the Coyotes.
The biggest question going into tonight is will this be the last game Shane Doan plays. Talking about retirement of a beloved player is never easy, but at 40 years old, this may be the captains last ride.
Tonight should be a high emotion game for lots of reasons, one that shouldn’t be missed.
1. Can the Coyotes end on a high note? - The Coyotes have a chance to climb the standings a little getting out of the bottom three, but that hurts their odds at a lotto pick. The Coyotes have been through so much this season, ending a little better than the doom and gloom we expected could be nice.
2. Will the Domi-Burmistrov-Duclair Line be dominate again? - One can hope. Since Burmistrov has come back into the line up, this line has been absolutely ridiculous. When the Coyotes first picked him up, I was sure playing him with Domi would be a great idea. I have not been disappointed.
3. Will we see the end of two careers tonight? - Perhaps, but enjoy watching Michalek and Doan and push it out of your mind this evening. Enjoy the good memories of the past and what good things could happen this evening.
Players to Watch
Minnesota - Charlie Coyle - Coyle has been a sneaky good player all season and has been quietly picking up points (55 in 81 games) while centering Nate Prosser and Jason Zucker.
Arizona - Zbynek Michalek- With tonight most likely being his last game, he will be playing with a lot of emotion. He started his career as a Wild and is ending it against the Wild, full circle.
Minnesota- Looks like Jared Spurgeon is out with a lower-body injury and is day to day and Chris Stewart may be out due to illness. Do keep an eye out when the roster is released tonight to see if there are an inordinate number of healthy scratches.
Arizona - Brad Richardson remains out, and will be for the rest of the season. Oliver Ekman-Larsson is also away on a leave of absence due to the death of his mother.
Tonight’s game starts at 6:00pm in Arizona. You can watch it on Fox Sports Arizona Plus, Fox Sports Go, or listen to it on ESPN Radio Phoenix 620 AM.