On Saturday night, a playoff bubble team and a lottery team came together for a late-season NHL game in Glendale, Arizona. One of those team put up 6 goals, including 4 from defensemen, and the other team was the playoff hopeful St. Louis Blues.
The Coyotes absolutely owned all 60 minutes of the affair, in each phase and at each position group. Goaltender Antti Raanta was perfect, and kept up his Vezina-type pace that has held up since the turn of the new year. In back, the Coyotes defense played short handed with season-ending injuries to Jason Demers and Niklas Hjalmarsson yet dominated as they were expected to in October.
Up front, each line contributed and the Dylan Strome every Coyotes’ fan has waited to see has begun to bloom. This could be a signal that next season may actually be the year things turn around as the youth the team has drafted over the last 4 season has begun to mature.
Coming off this high, Arizona is taking its final road trip this season after a grueling schedule unseen by any team in recent memory. It may seem overblown, but no team travels more than Arizona, and the frequency of long trips east followed by short homestands surely took a toll on this roster constantly trying to find its identity.
Luckily, that schedule is ending and finally this team has found what it takes to win even when they are missing some of the key pieces. Meeting Arizona on this road trip is the demoralized Flames, who were hyped to be contenders in the West this year but underachieved in almost every category to miss the playoffs.
Between Mike Smith’s late season injury and inconsistent defense, Calgary has folded to end their season on the outside looking in wondering what more they need to do after aggressively trying to improve last offseason.
Some analysts have said to let it be and try again next year, and others are saying tear it all down to the core and try again in a few years. Regardless, the Flames the Coyotes will face in the Saddledome on Tuesday night will be grasping for something to build on for next year.
An important player to watch in this matchup for Arizona is surely Clayton Keller, who has broken out of his midseason slump to the point of warranting a jumpstart to his Calder Trophy candidacy while for Calgary, goaltender Mike Smith may seek redemption after being embarrassed in Glendale in his last meeting with his former team.
Tomorrow's @ArizonaCoyotes @ Flames game (4/3) will be available on a special FOX Sports Arizona Coyotes channel via these providers and as usual, streamed on FOX Sports GO:— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) April 2, 2018
DISH: 447/9517/412-35 (hopper)
Orbitel: 220 (SD) / 221 (HD)
Tuesday’s game can be heard on 92.3 FM and Fox Sports Arizona Plus, however for some viewers it may be unavailable due to simultaneous Suns and Diamondbacks broadcasts. If you can’t find it on your Fox Sports Arizona extra channels, it can also be viewed on Fox Sports Go, on NHL.tv for out of town viewers. Additional options include the team’s final viewing party of the season at Famous 48, 4218 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251 as well as free trials on NHL Game Center Ice via Cox, and a 7-day free trial on Sling TV.