Yesterday the Arizona Coyotes proved that they weren’t the worst team in the league as they beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-1. Thanks to those two points from the Sabres the Coyotes have overtaken the Vancouver Canucks and are now ranked 29th in the NHL.
Last night’s win was a big one for the younger Coyotes. Dylan Strome, who was recalled before the game, scored the second goal of the season and his career. His time in Tucson seems to have served him well as he played much better than he had when the season started, although you could say that about most of the ‘Yotes. Clayton Keller set records for most assists and most points as a Coyote rookie with assists on Derek Stepan’s and Richard Panik’s goals. Keller currently has 35 assists and 55 points on the season and his play continues to the best part of the Coyotes, although he will likely not beat Teemu Selanne’s franchise record of 132 points in a rookie season.
While tonight’s opponents the Carolina Hurricanes are tenth in the Eastern Conference it is extremely unlikely that they will make the playoffs this season. With 73 points, they are 8 points behind the next team the Florida Panthers. They haven’t been officially eliminated yet, but the New Jersey Devils and Panthers would have to really drop off a cliff for the Hurricanes to make the post season.
Carolina is 6-4-0 in the month of March, with wins against the New York Islanders, Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers, and Devils. In those four wins the Hurricanes managed to score at least three goals, proving that despite a -35 goal differential the Hurricanes still have a few offensive threats. Sebastian Aho is having a great sophomore season with 26 goals and 33 assists in 69 games. Tuevo Teravainen has reached the 20 goal plateau for the first time in his career in his second season with the Canes.
Unfortunately for the Hurricanes they have not been getting the goaltending they need. Long time Carolina goaltender Cam Ward has been backed up by Scott Darling in his first season since being acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks. Ward has a 2.78 goals against average and a .904 save percentage, which is just slightly worse then his career averages of 2.70 and .909. Darling’s numbers however are nowhere near his career numbers with a 3.19 goals against average and .885 save percentage. Goaltending is definitely a weakness for the Hurricanes, one that the Coyotes will hopefully be able to exploit.