Don’t look now but the Coyotes are riding a three game win streak and a four game point streak. With the injuries stacking up to key players it wouldn’t have been all that surprising if the Coyotes were deep in a losing streak. But with half a season left to go the Coyotes are mounting a push at the right time, especially since many other teams in the Pacific are starting to slump.
Despite Connor McDavid drawing first blood in the first period on a breakaway, the Coyotes were never really out of it. Early in the second Jordan Oesterle would score from the blue line, beating Cam Tabot to tie up the game. Edmonton would challenge the goal being offsides, and after review it was determined that the play was onsides and Edmonton was accessed a minor penalty. The resulting power play would lead to the moment that would be the topic of conversation, after being crosschecked in the blue paint Conor Garland while picking up his stick would redirect the puck with his face into the net. It was a pretty brutal moment and Garland would lose a fair amount of blood as a result.
Right place, right time? Going to have to ask Connor Garland about that one as he takes one off his face to the back of the net. But he's a hockey player, smiles as he heads to the locker room for stitches, he'll be alright! @ArizonaCoyotes up 2-1 pic.twitter.com/YDzcvLR9Mm— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) January 13, 2019
Surprisingly enough, Garland’s night wasn’t over and he would the game winner early in the third period on another power play, one with much less blood.
Its tough to overstate how important Conor Garland has been for the team lately, but he isn’t the only one playing well lately. Darcy Kuemper has been solid as of late and has taken the role of starter fairly well. Despite being down Brad Richardson and Michael Grabner the penalty kill has remained solid and was again perfect against the crazy skilled Edmonton Oilers. Key to that has been the team being more disciplined, Edmonton only had one power play last night. You also can’t ignore that Alex Galchenyuk, who has been playing with Garland, has been playing some of his best hockey this season and has six points in his last three games.
The Calgary Flames are, pardon the pun, hot right now. They currently lead the Western Conference and come into tonight’s game riding a four game win streak. That four game win streak hasn’t come against against the best teams, and someone how the Philadelphia Flyers managed to take them to overtime, but good teams get points when they can. They are an extremely talented team and they already have Stanley Cup buzz (subscription required) just over halfway through the season.
Calgary has four players who have scored over 20 goals and are their key offensive threats. Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Elias Lindholm, and Matthew Tkachuk all have between 67 and 52 points. It should come as no surprise then that the Flames are high in the leagues in goal scored, 166 goals good for third in the league. They aren’t as good at keeping goals out, but allowing 130 for fourteenth isn’t that bad. The power play is tenth in the league, which is surprising for a team that scores as much as they do. They are weak on the penalty kill at twenty first, with the Coyotes finding recent success on the power play that may be something they can exploit.
In net Calgary seems to have turned to David Rittich, a Czech native who is playing in his second NHL season. Rittich previously went undrafted, but in 27 games he has a 2.45 goals against average and a .920 save percentage. Former Coyote Mike Smith has been struggling this season, the last season of his six year contract, and in 23 games played he has a 3.09 goals against average and a .886 save percentage. When Smith signed the deal with the Coyotes I remember thinking that by the end of his contract he would transition to a veteran backup for Mark Visentin. That definitely didn’t happen but the timeline seems to fit.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Conor Garland - Its astonishing that Garland isn’t in the next category. He had another two goal game against the Edmonton Oilers and now has six goals in his last four games.
Calgary: Sean Monahan - Monahan had a goal against the Florida Panthers and has been a major contributor for the Flames. During the Flames New Year’s Eve game against the Sharks he managed five assists and he hasn’t had consecutive pointless games since November 10th.
Arizona: Kevin Connauton (questionable, lower body), Brad Richardson (upper body), Nick Schmaltz (lower body), Michael Grabner (eye), Antti Raanta (lower body), Jason Demers (knee), Christian Dvorak (pectoral)
Calgary: Andrew Mangiapane (undisclosed), Juuso Valimaki (ankle), Michael Stone (arm)
Can the Coyotes complete the Western Canadian sweep?
This poll is closed