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Coyotes looking to crack the code against St. Louis

After battling for points in 5 of their last 6, the Coyotes are hoping to get the elusive win against the Blues.

NHL: NOV 09 Coyotes at Blues Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It was under three minutes in Nashville and the Coyotes had been playing the Predators, one of the best teams in the league, like a team that isn’t 31st of 31. They were moving pucks, back-checking collectively and putting together a cohesive team effort.

But Nashville found a way to put it home, and the Coyotes collapsed late yet again. This is a young team yes, but at some point the team has to take the lessons to heart and improve. Because improvement is everywhere, but there.

They have improved on the penalty kill leaps and bounds from the last regime. The goaltending has been outstanding. The defense even looks good.

But to get a win, you have to finish. And that seems to be the current problem plaguing the team. Incidentally, that’s the most critical part of winning a game. So if they can figure that part out, and not mess anything else up, then this team will start winning far more consistently.

View From St. Louis

Through the Gateway Arch, the St. Louis Blues are sitting pretty with 59 points in the Central Division, which is good enough for a close 2nd only to Nashville. After losing 3 straight heading into the bye weak, St. Louis has refocused to the tune of scoring 2 wins, beating Ottawa and Toronto.

Coming into their affair with Arizona, St Louis is led in points by offseason acquisition Brayden Schenn, who has truly come into his own. Leading the team in goals against is Vladmir Tarasenko at 20 goals so far. On the back end, Jake Allen has posted an average to underachieving .908 save percentage and has 18 wins on the season.

Blues backup Carter Hutton has been the surprise of the year in his second season with the team after spending the last few years in Nashville. In 14 starts, Hutton has 10 wins to 3 losses and a .943 save percentage.

View From Arizona

Things are improving, but still rather grim.

Christian Fischer has been absolutely stellar on both ends of the ice. Annti Raanta has started to become the goaltender the Coyotes traded their 7th overall to get. Brendan Perlini and Richard Panik have looked incredibly good together.

Best of all, the defense doesn’t look as horrible as it had earlier in the month.

But again, from the intro, the team still can’t finish and that’s what stings.

Three Questions

  1. Which Schenn wins? The Coyotes are no stranger to brotherly matchups, from the Michaleks to the McGinns to the Stones. Now another chapter in brotherly love, we shall see who wins the battle for family supremacy tonight.
  2. Can Annti Raanta keep it up? Annti has been outstanding in his last half dozen starts, with his only faults being the defensive breakdowns in front of him. Will he continue to impress facing another very good team?
  3. Can the Coyotes contain Vladmir Tarasenko? Tarasenko has owned the Coyotes for much of his career. It will be a critical part of the game for the Coyotes to contain Tarasenko if they want to get that win.

Players to Watch

St. Louis: F Brayden Schenn:- Schenn has been outstanding, and outstanding enough to get himself an All-Star birth. If Arizona’s defense even stutters, look for Schenn to start making things happen.

Arizona: F Clayton Keller- It’s another homecoming game for Keller, where he played his first ever pro game and coming in, he’s been quiet. It’ll be interesting to see if some home cooking stirs Keller’s stick.

Injury Report

St. Louis: F Robby Fabbri (IR-Knee), F Zac Sanford (IR-Shoulder), F Jaden Schwartz (IR-Ankle)

Arizona: D Jakob Chychrun (Day to day-Illness)

Puck Drop

You can catch the game from St. Louis on Fox Sports Arizona and ESPN 620AM at 6 p.m. Arizona time.