It's safe to say that the Arizona Coyotes are glad to put 2017 behind them. While nobody is going to say that the Coyotes are a good team all of a sudden, they definitely are playing like a better team and have a better record to show for it.
In January they have a 3-1-4 record. That’s not a stellar record, but compared to the start of the season it is a huge improvement. The fact that they can take good teams like the Nashville Predators or the San Jose Sharks to overtime is leaps and bounds compared to the team that didn’t get their first regulation win until November.
View from Columbus
The Columbus Blue Jackets are having an okay season this year. They are currently tied for a Wild Card spot with the Pittsburgh Penguins and could easily overtake New Jersey and Philadelphia in the tight Metropolitan Division with a win.
Newly acquired forward Artemi Panarin has taken a bit of a step back from his time in Chicago, which is to be expected, but he still leads the Blue Jackets in points with 39. With 15 goals and 10 assists, forward Josh Anderson is about to top his goals and assists from last year (17 and 12 respectively) despite having a 10.2 shooting percentage compared to last seasons 14.3.
Between the pipes Columbus have been getting what they need. Sergei Bobrovsky was stellar last season with a .931 save percentage, but this season’s .919 is more expected. Backup Joonas Korpisalo has been with the Blue Jackets for the past three seasons, although he typically gets limited use except for the 2015-16 season.
View from Arizona
The Coyotes are coming off two wins and there are a lot of positives. Getting two goals from Nick Cousins is rather unexpected, but the team can use more secondary scoring. Antti Raanta continues his solid play midway through the season with a 32 save effort on 34 shots.
The game definitely showed a few of the teams deficits too. An early lead is great, but letting the New York Islanders tie the game less than a minute into the second is very bad. Taking the lead back with Brendan Perlini goal is good, but not being able to put the other team away and letting them tie up the game early in the third is bad. The Coyotes have gone to overtime six times this month, and that’s just playing with fire.
- Can the 'Yotes finish in regulation? Six overtimes in a month is a not a good number. The Coyotes are getting points and playing better, but it would be nice if they could finish a game in regulation.
- Will Raanta’s solid play continue? Raanta’s first season with the Arizona Coyotes hasn’t been ideal but his play recently shows why the 'Yotes took a chance on him. Hopefully fans are finally seeing the goaltender they thought they were going to get.
- Which unlikely player will get a goal tonight? Cousins scored twice against New York and Zac Rinaldo opened the scoring against the St. Louis Blues. Hopefully the trend of goals from everyone continues.
Players to Watch
Columbus: Seth Jones - Jones continues to be a solid addition since being acquired from the Nashville Predators. He has a goal and six assists in the past six games and is close to topping his career bests in goals and assists.
Arizona: Brendan Perlini - Perlini has been solid as of late with goals in the last three games. He is a goal and an assist away from matching his 2016-17 numbers, and if he can get them tonight he will get there in fourteen fewer games.
Columbus: F - Brandon Dubinsky (Personal), F - Sonny Milano (Oblique), D - Ryan Murray (Back), Questionable: F- Cam Atkinson (Foot)
Arizona: Questionable: F - Jordan Martinook (Upper Body)
Tonight’s game at Gila River Arena will start at 7:00 pm Arizona time and will air on Fox Sports Arizona and ESPN 620 AM.