The Arizona Coyotes returned home after a trip to Los Angeles hoping to extend their win streak against the defending Stanley Cup champs. Unfortunately after leading most of the game they took their foot off the gas and the Washington Capitals took control in the third period. The Coyotes appeared to be playing not to lose as opposed to win, and would ultimately fall 4-2.
Arizona has been the tale of two teams this season. Right now they are playing some of their best hockey though. While the offense has been inconsistent throughout the season, but they have been clicking since the Coyotes traded Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini for Nick Schmaltz. After an injury sidelined Jason Demers and took away one of the Coyotes’ top blue liners the team’s defense seems to have stabilized and is starting to click again. Adin Hill has been solid in his role as a call up, allowing 3 goals in a game for the first time this season against the Capitals.
After four straight starts we may finally see Calvin Pickard get a start. Pickard was claimed off waivers after both Antti Raanta and Darcy Kuemper were sidelined with injuries. Hill has played better then expected though, keeping Pickard on the bench, but it remains to be seen if the team wants to continue working the young netminder or if they want to give him a break.
San Jose made a few huge splashes before the start of the season. The first big trade came when the Sharks traded Mike Hoffman for former Coyote Mikkel Boedker. The Sharks then immediately flipped Hoffman to the Florida Panthers for picks. Even though the Ottawa Senators were already played once by Sharks they ended up sending Erik Karlsson to San Jose in arguably the biggest trade of the offseason.
Despite acquiring one of the best players in the NHL the Sharks haven’t seen the results they may have expected. They still have a playoff spot, but with 33 points they could easily be bumped out of a wild card spot by the Minnesota Wild or Edmonton Oilers or even the Coyotes if given enough time. They have a decent power play (22.9%, 12th in the league) and a stellar penalty kill (85.2%, 3rd in the league). They score a decent amount and are 11th in goals for, and at 22nd they get scored on far too much. For a team that made a huge acquisition that signaled they were in “win now” mode the Sharks have been largely meh to start the season.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Clayton Keller - Despite being held off the scorecard against the Capitals, Keller has been great since the team acquired Schmaltz. He has 4 points in the Coyotes last four games.
San Jose: Erik Karlsson - Its easy to say that Erik Karlsson is the player to watch, he is one of the best players in the league. But he was the primary assists in both of the Sharks goals in the Sharks 3-2 loss.
Arizona: Vinnie Hinostroza (questionable, lower body), Michael Grabner (eye), Antti Raanta (lower body), Darcy Kuemper (lower body), Jason Demers (knee), Christian Dvorak (pectoral)
San Jose: No injuries
Can the Coyotes keep Karlsson off the scorecard tonight?
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