In their last game the Coyotes faced off against the Carolina Hurricanes, a team hoping to make the post season. The Hurricanes managed to win the game 6-5, but if they are going to make it to the playoffs they will have to overtake the Coyotes’ opponents for tonight, the Florida Panthers. If the Coyotes had a chance to play the New Jersey Devils they could complete their Eastern Conference Wild Card bingo card, but unfortunately the schedulers didn’t think that far ahead.
The Coyotes 6-5 loss to the Hurricanes was the third game of March where they managed to score 5 or more goals. That’s definitely a welcome change for a team that historically been thought of as low scoring. Unfortunately it was the second time this month where they allowed their opponents to score 5 or more, with the other being their 6-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche.
Arizona managed to get offense from just about everyone in the last game. Clayton Keller, Nick Cousins, Josh Archibald and Alex Goligoski all notched goals, with Goligoski “scoring” twice. Niklas Hjalmarsson, Christian Fischer, Derek Stepan, Max Domi, Brad Richardson, Dylan Strome and Keller all recorded assists giving Strome a two game point streak since being recalled. So many of the Arizona players have gone through offensive dry spells this season, and its nice to see most of the major pieces clicking, even if its for just one game.
Only three points behind the Devils for the last wild card spot, the Panthers need every point they can secure in the last stretch. By in large they have been doing just that and are 8-3-1 in the month of March. They come into tonight’s game coming off a rare loss, one which saw them get blanked by the Columbus Blue Jackets in a 4-0 loss on Thursday.
The Panthers have a nice mixture of younger players and veterans, although not as young as the Coyotes. Aleksander Barkov leads the team in points with 73 in his fifth season in the NHL, and behind him are Vincent Trocheck (fifth season, 66 points) and Jonathan Huberdeau (sixth season, 64 points). On the veterans side former Coyote Keith Yandle continues to generate offense from the blue line and has 49 points. Roberto Luongo will be sitting out tonight’s game with a minor upper body injury, leaving the Coyotes to face off against James Reimer. Reimer has played 38 games this season and has a 3.03 goals against average and a .911 save percentage. Reimer has won five of his last six starts, although his one loss saw him give up seven goals.