This past Wednesday, despite an early lead from a Clayton Keller goal the Arizona Coyotes let the Vancouver Canucks tie the game just over a minute later from Jussi Jokinen in the first period. Neither team was able to find the back of the net for the rest of the game, and it seemed like the Coyotes would be the fourth team in a row to go into overtime against the Canucks. But with 58 seconds left in regulation Derek Stepan decided that instead of playing a few extra minutes of hockey he should just finish the game immediately and he put one past Jacob Markstrom to win the game. And with that the Coyotes were able to briefly move out of last place in the league, although the Buffalo Sabres has retaken the number 30 spot.
Despite the Desert Dog’s better play and the better record they have as of late, there are still very real areas of concern that they need to address. With the exception of a few outliers, Arizona’s offense has not been generating that much with seven of their past ten games seeing Arizona score two or fewer goals. Special teams also seem to be an area of concern, with the Coyotes allowing a short handed and power play goal against the Edmonton Oilers and the Canucks scoring their loan goal on a delayed penalty. Probably not a major cause for concern yet, but something to watch as the ‘Yotes finish the season.
The Colorado Avalanche are a tough team to get a handle on this season. Last November they finally managed to pull the trigger on trading Matt Duchene. The trade was a three team swap that saw Duchene go to the Ottawa Senators, everyone’s favorite former Coyote Kyle Turris go to the Nashville Predators, and Colorado get back Shane Bowers, Andrew Hammond, a first and third round pick from Ottawa, Samuel Girard, and Vladislav Kamenev, and a second round pick from Nashville. Of those players only Girard has seen NHL ice with the Avalanche this season.
With Colorado coming off one of the worst seasons in NHL history and moving one of their best players early in the season you would think the Avalanche would be struggling this year again, but things have been going surprisingly well. Colorado is deep in the hunt for a playoff spot and only a point behind the Los Angeles Kings and the last Wild Card spot, with a game in hand against the team behind them, the Calgary Flames. Nathan MacKinnon is unquestionably having his best season of his career and has already set career highs in goals, assists, and points. Due to some injuries Jonathan Bernier and Semyon Varlamov have split the season pretty evenly, and the two have been good with .914 and .913 save percentages, respectively.