After starting the season on the road the Arizona Coyotes are back home and looking for their first win. The Coyotes’ first game of the season saw them being shut out by the Dallas Stars 3-0 in a game where everything collapsed in under two minutes. One game shouldn’t be enough to make fans nervous, but after the disastrous start of last season everyone is going to breath a sign of relief after the Coyotes get their first win.
Despite being blanked by the Stars there were some bright spots. Arizona outshot the Stars 30-25 and the teams were almost even in the face off circle (48% versus 52%). For those paying close attention to Dylan Strome this season he played well, garnering two shots on goal in fourteen minutes and fifty seconds on the ice with a minute thirty on the power play. In terms of special teams, the 'Yotes were perfect on the penalty kill, but weren’t able to convert on any of their three power plays.
This past offseason the Pacific Division was the division to watch in terms of activity. Whether it was San Jose trading for Erik Karlsson, Los Angeles signing Ilya Kovalchuk, or Vegas trading for Max Pacioretty the division was making big splashes. Compared to the rest of the division the Ducks were quieter, but they are still a different team compared to the start of last year.
Anaheim’s 5-2 opener against the Sharks was a good showcase of why they shouldn’t be ignored despite not making the same big acquisitions. Less than a minute in Max Comtois started the scoring in his first game in the NHL. While the Sharks were able to take the lead with goals from Evander Kane and Tomas Hertl, it was Rickard Rakell who tied the game late in the second. The third period was all Ducks though, with goals from Brandon Montour, Adam Henrique, and Carter Rowney. Looking at the shots on goal you see a completely different story with the Sharks outshooting the Ducks 33-15. This may be an early indicator at how much the Ducks will be relying on goaltender John Gibson this season, especially with injuries to key players like Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler.
Players to watch
Arizona: Clayton Keller - Expectations are high for Keller’s sophomore season. While he and the rest of the team were quiet in the first game don’t expect that to last.
Anaheim: Adam Henrique - The Ducks acquired Henrique from the Devils along with Joseph Blandisi and a 2018 third-round pick in exchange for Sami Vatanen and a conditional pick. Henrique has finished with over 20 goals in the past three seasons and had a goal and an assist against the Sharks.
Arizona: Jakob Chychrun (Knee), Barrett Hayton (Upper Body), Conor Garland (Upper Body), Nicholas Merkley (Knee), Josh Archibald (Lower Body), Alex Galchenyuk (Groin), and Christian Dvorak (Back)
Anaheim: Patrick Eaves (Questionable - Shoulder), Ondrej Kase (Concussion), Corey Perry (Knee), Korbinian Holzer (Wrist), and Ryan Kesler (Hip)