The Arizona Coyotes are taking on the Dallas Stars tonight for the first time since October. Things have changed just a bit since these two teams last met, when Adin Hill was the starting goalie for the Coyotes. The Stars were still getting used to their new Ken Hitchcock approved defense first system. Meanwhile the Coyotes were adjusting to Rick Tocchet’s all offense system. Now both teams are playing the way their new coaches want. Also the Coyotes have their starting goaltender playing to, if not above, expectations. In fact since the end of October, Antti Raanta is in the Top 10 for best save percentage by goalies in the league that have played 20 or more games.
The Stars are coming off of a shutout loss to the Los Angeles Kings so they’ll be looking to rebound against the Coyotes to get some points on this road trip. They are currently occupying the first wildcard spot in the Western conference standings with the Minnesota Wild only one point behind them. The next team they face also happens to be the Wild so banking points now will be important for the Dallas team. Even though they are playing more defensive hockey the Stars still have a lot of threats on offense like Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov. For a deeper look at the Stars check out Defending Big D.
Arizona - Jason Demers is day-to-day with an upper body injury that occurred in the games against the Columbus Blue Jackets just before the All-Star Break. Jordan Martinook is questionable for tonight after slamming in to the boards during practice possibly there was a sniper at the arena or he was tripped depending on who is to be believed.
Dallas - Antoine Roussel has had a nasal infection will be evaluated today. Martin Hanzal has a pulled muscle and Marc Methot with a knee injury will both be out.
This was by far the weirdest game of the season and also the Coyotes worst game since the beginning of the New Year. It started during warm ups with the mystery of Raanta-gate, originally Raanta was supposed to be the starting goalie but unexpectedly the Coyotes announced that Scott Wedgewood would be in goal. Craig Morgan from ArizonaSports.com was able to confirm right away that Raanta was not traded, not injured, not being disciplined and would be the backup just not on the bench. Tocchet also said he would provide further details after the game ended and he did:
Antti Raanta update: Raanta was involved in a rear-end collision on Loop 101 on his way to Gila River Arena tonight. He was shaken up but is ok. He served as the Coyotes backup goaltender tonight versus Dallas but for precautionary reasons, was not on the bench.— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) February 2, 2018
Thankfully Raanta was okay and the team will likely keep an eye on him before the next game.
After the puck was dropped the Coyotes had a good first period where they just edged out the Stars in shots 6-5. Despite trading penalties back and forth the Coyotes exited the period with the only goal, scored by defender Kevin Connauton. Then it all went wrong. The Stars came back in the second after Devin Shore scored a goal and there was no way that Wedgewood could’ve anticipated it.
Tyler Seguin and Mattias Janmark add to the score before the 2nd period ended. Jamie Benn almost did too but he was offside so it was overturned. In the third the Coyotes were better at keeping the Stars from getting shots on net but weren’t any better about getting any shots on net of their own. Esa Lindell put the last nail in the coffin when he scored an empty goal from behind his own goal line and after banking it off the boards.
To cap off the weird night there was another goalie incident when Ben Bishop was hit in the face by an errant puck while sitting on the bench. His team will be updated tomorrow on his condition.
The Coyotes take to the road to face the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. local time. It can be viewed on Fox Sports Arizona and the radio call is on ESPN 620 AM.