The Arizona Coyotes entered their Saturday game looking to get two points from the Colorado Avalanche. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t happen, although Arizona would come back from a 2-0 deficit to force the game to overtime and netting them a point.
For most of the game, neither team was able to score, a common sight when watching the Coyotes this season. But things would change quickly. Nazem Kadri would score on the power play the third period and Tyson Jost would score again less than two minutes later. But Michael Grabner would get his first goal of the season less than a minute after Jost, and Nick Schmaltz would get his second goal of the season with less than four minutes left in regulation.
But the Coyotes missing a point wasn’t the worst thing that would happen to the Desert Dogs. Niklas Hjalmarsson blocked a shot from Erik Johnson and would end up missing the rest of the game. Craig Morgan would report after the game that he was on crutches, and Coyotes fans would soon learn that he has a cracked fibula and is expected to miss three months.
The Coyotes offense has been fairly slow to start the season, and they have only been able to stay competitive by playing some solid defensive hockey. Hjalmarsson is one of the Coyotes’ best defensive defensemen, and his loss will definitely be a big one for the Coyotes. If the Coyotes defense isn’t going to be as solid the offense will need to step up if the team wants to stay competitive.
It is hard to think of a team whose stock has dropped faster than the Winnipeg Jets. A few years ago they were thought to be a team that would challenge for the Stanley Cup for years to come. This past offseason though saw the Jets lose key defensemen Tyler Myers and Jacob Trouba, only to have defenseman Dustin Byfuglien sit out the start of the season, along with issues re-signing second-overall pick Patrik Laine.
The offseason drama hasn’t done much to affect Winnipeg’s spot in the standings. They currently are third in Central Division with a record of 4-3-0. Three of those wins have come against teams that missed the playoffs last year though, the Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild, and the New Jersey Devils. Two of those wins also required that overtime or the shootout, a sign that things may not be as good for the Jets as their record suggests.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Nick Schmaltz - Schmaltz has goals in back-to-back games and spent some time against the Avalanche with Clayton Keller. Keller has largely played with Phil Kessel this season, but him and Schmaltz had great chemistry last season, and playing together may prove great for both of them.
Winnipeg: Mark Scheifele - Although Laine gets a lot of media attention, Scheifele is right behind him with one fewer assist and the same number of goals. Scheifele is riding a four-game point streak with 2 goals and 5 assists in that time.
Arizona: Niklas Hjalmarsson (fibula)
Winnipeg: Dustin Byfuglien (suspension), Nathan Beaulieu (upper body), Bryan Little (concussion)
Tonight’s game will start at 5:00 pm Arizona time and will be available on Fox Sports Arizona and Fox Sports 910 AM.